SHANGHAI: Firms in Jiangsu will have to pay for discharging sewage from next year, the provincial government has said.
"Research into a new levying system has begun and it will be completed in one or two months," an official from the Jiangsu price bureau said.
The new system will require all companies to pay in advance for any waste or sewage they discharge into Taihu Lake.
The system will be in-troduced on a trial basis on January 1, 2008, but the exact details are yet to be finalized, the official said.
The provincial government is looking into similar systems and regulations and hopes to provide details of the charges by the end of the year, he said.
The government is currently trying to decide which firms should be allowed to discharge waste, what they should be charged for doing so, and how the system will be managed.
About 56 billion tons of waste are discharged into Taihu Lake every year.
Bao Chenggang, a profe-ssor with the College of Environmental Science and Engineering at Tongji University, said: "In my opinion, it is a good idea for Jiangsu to trial a charging system for sewage discharge, as it will help solve the water pollution problem.
"It is a good way to control water pollution using market forces, but there is still a long way to go to fully solve the pollution problem in Taihu Lake."
Bao said similar charging systems were commonplace in developed countries.
The Ministry of Finance chose Taihu Lake as a pilot for the new system in March.
Officials in Jiangsu have been keen to tighten environmental protection measures in the province since an algae bloom broke out on the lake in May and June.
As a result, 2,150 small chemical firms in its drainage area will be closed down by the end of next year.
Taihu Lake, on the border of Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, is China's third largest freshwater lake. About 30 million people in nine cities in Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Shanghai Municipality rely on it for drinking water.
Source: China Daily