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Law seeks to regulate potable water dispensers

By Chen Xiaoru (Global Times)

09:47, June 07, 2013

The operators of the city's roughly 5,000 water vending machines will face fines of up to 10,000 yuan ($1,629) for failing to meet health requirements under a new law introduced to regulate the machines, Shanghai's health authorities announced at a press conference Thursday.

The law aims to fill a regulatory gap so authorities can issue administrative punishment to the water dispenser companies, according to the Shanghai Municipal Health Inspection Institute.

"The new law will demand that the companies carry out daily checks on the machines. And it will also require the machines to be put in suitable locations away from the street," said Mao Jie, a senior officer from the institute.

Mao said that the authorities found that 97 percent of the machines owned by 20 companies passed a national filtering standard last year, higher than 7 years ago when 93 percent passed the same test.

The machines are popular among residents because they are convenient and the water is cheap, said Xu Tianqiang, the head of the institute. The water sells for 0.2 yuan per liter.

"Most machines are scattered in old residential compounds where residents are concerned about the quality of the tap water from the old water pipes," Xu said.

Although authorities have been overseeing the machines since 2006, they acknowledged that problems remain, including unregistered machines.

China Business News reported last month that one company faked quality inspection results for the 600 machines that it operates.

The company stopped checking the machines after its sole inspector resigned, Li Chuanguo, the manager of the problematic company, told the Global Times.

Health authorities temporarily shut down the company's machines and have demanded that each company hire at least two inspectors to oversee the water quality of their machines.

In March, Shanghai Television Station reported that Minhang district health inspectors discovered five unregistered machines.

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