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Govt to fight water pollution with more funding

(Xinhua)

08:10, May 18, 2012

BEIJING - The Chinese government plans to allocate 500 billion yuan ($79 billion) for the prevention and control of water pollution in major drainage areas from 2011 to 2015, up from 300 billion yuan for the previous five-year period.

The move was revealed in a 2011-2015 guideline on fighting water pollution that was jointly released Thursday by the Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP), National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Water Resources.

According to Zhao Hualin, a MEP official, the guideline includes 5,998 projects focusing on a variety of issues, including pollution in areas with drinking water sources, industrial pollution, urban sewage treatment, pollution from livestock-raising and nearshore water pollution.

"With increasing pressure from economic and social development, our country's water environment will suffer more obvious and persistent pollution and other long-overdue issues as of 2015," Zhao said.

The document sets a goal of cutting chemical oxygen demand (COD), a measure of organic pollutants in water, by 9.7 percent and ammonia nitrogen content by 11.3 percent by 2015 in comparison to 2010 levels.

"The guideline indicates that the government's focus has shifted to more elaborate methods of water management, as well as coordinated prevention and control efforts," Zhao said.

"Local governments are ultimately responsible for the quality of water resources within their jurisdiction. Governments at various levels should adopt a market mechanism to encourage more investment in the fight against river pollution," NDRC official Huang Weibo said.

According to Xia Xiquan, an official from the Ministry of Finance, the central government plans to earmark more than 30 billion yuan annually from now until 2015 to treat water pollution.

China met its 10-percent COD-reduction goal for the 2006-2010 period after reducing COD levels by 12.45 percent from 2005. Ammonia nitrogen is a new addition to China's major pollutant monitoring list.

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