All the Chinese cities must have operating sewage treatment plants by 2010, with 70 percent of urban sewage treated before being discharged into the environment, the deputy minister of construction Qiu Baoxing has said.
Speaking at a national conference on water pollution control last week, Qiu said currently there are 791 sewage treatment plants operating in 383 Chinese cities.
Qiu's speech, made available to Xinhua Tuesday, said 52 percent of the urban waste water in China are treated before being discharged, up 18 percentage points from 2000.
In 135 major cities, 70 percent of the waste water are already being treated.
Qiu, however, said the country's water pollution situation is still grave, as 278 cities have yet to build their sewage plants, while many plants are running at lower-than-designed capacities. Some are not even running at all.
To ensure the attainment of the goals, the deputy minister said municipal authorities must include water pollution control into their urban planning.
The lack of proper sewage collecting networks is partly to blame for the under-utilization of the sewage treatment capacity.
Zhang Yue, the deputy director of the ministry's urban construction department, said earlier that the issue arises from the fact that many sewage treatment plants are financed by the central government through treasury bonds, while the sewage collecting networks are usually the responsibility of local governments.
Qiu said government shall have to change its policy and inject more funds into the building of sewage collecting networks.
To ensure the normal and sustainable operation of sewage treatment plants, the deputy minister said the policy of charging polluters for waste water treatment shall be applied to the remaining 150-odd cities that have not adopted the policy.