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Home >> China
UPDATED: 09:48, November 30, 2004
Clean drinking water for all in China by 2020
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HIGHTLIGHTS: 57 million farmers bid farewell to shortage of drinking water; 300 million farmers will drink safety-guarantee water in 2020; There is safety-evaluation standard for rural drinking water.

"I have drunk muddy water for decades and it is out of my expectations that my family can have clean drinking water this year", exclaimed Zhou Rong, a senior citizen in Baimiao Township, Guang'an City in southwest China's Sichuan Province, which has just had access to tap water. As learned from the National Working Conference on Drinking Water Project for Rural Residents held in Guang'an, over the past five years since implementation of the project for solving rural drinking water difficulty, more than 57 million rural residents, like Zhou Rong, have bid farewell to shortages of potable water and thus the goal as set in the "10th five-year" plan for solving rural drinking water difficulty has been fulfilled ahead of time, currently the problem of rural drinking water difficulty has been basically settled.

According Wang Shucheng, Minister of Water Resources, since 1999, China has invested a total of 18 billion yuan, including 9.8 billion yuan national funds of treasury bonds allocated by the central government and 8.2 billion yuan supplementary funds put in by local governments at various levels and capital raised by local residents themselves in building over 800,000 various rural drinking water works, which benefit more than 14 million households.

The rural water project has brought about huge economic, social and ecological effects. The result of a water-related survey conducted by the Ministry of Water Resources in this past July and August shows: the said project has proceeded smoothly, the tasks set in the "10th five-year" plan have been fulfilled ahead of schedule, and the degree of satisfaction with the project is as high as 98 percent. The survey also shows that with clean drinking water, the incidence of local farmers' intestinal infectious diseases has dropped by 47 percent; in places with access to tap water, 46 percent farmhouses have bought washing machines; domestic water consumption of over 90 percent households has increased and the quality of farmers' life has improved remarkably.

It is reported that currently unsafe drinking water affects 300 million-plus villagers nationwide. On the basis of essentially solving the problem related to rural drinking water difficulty, the focus of future work will be placed on mainly settling the problem of safe drinking water for rural residents. The rural safe drinking water works will be officially launched next year. Vice-Minister of Water Resources Zhai Haohui points out that currently the objective for rural safe drinking water work has been set: during the "10th five-year" plan period, emphasis is placed on solving the problem of getting safe drinking water for 60m-80m people in areas where drinking water quality is not up to required standards, such as high fluorine and arsenic water, bitter and salty water and polluted water and in areas where the supply of drinking water is in acute shortages; the objective for 2015 is to reduce by half the number of people drinking unsafe water; the problem of rural drinking water safety will be basically solved in China by 2020, efforts will be made to allow over 300 million rural residents to drink safety-guarantee water.

In light of China's current rural economic development and the basic requirements for safe drinking water at home and abroad, the Ministry of Water Resources and Ministry of Health have recently formulated a Rural Drinking Water Safety and Hygienic Evaluation Index System, which divides rural drinking water into two grades--safe and basically safe; evaluation is made on four indexes--water quality, water quantity, the degree of convenience and the rate of guaranteed supply. If one of these four indexes goes below the lowest value of safe or basically safe, the water cannot be defined as safe or basically safe drinking water.

According to the aforementioned "System", if the water quality conforms to the national requirement of Domestic Drinking Water Hygienic Standard, the water is defined as safe; if it is up to the Domestic Drinking Water Hygienic Standard being carried out in rural areas, it is designated as basically safe; in terms of water quantity, if water quantity taken per person per day is not less than 40-60 liters, it is considered to be safe; if water quantity is not less than 20-40 liters, it is defined as basically safe; in terms of the degree of convenience, if the time spent on the whole journey to fetch water by human labor is less than 10 minutes, it is regarded as safe; and as basically safe in less than 20 minutes; in terms of the rate of guaranteed supply, if the rate is not lower than 95 percent, it is rated as safe and as basically safe it the rate is not lower than 90 percent.

By People's Daily Online

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