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Water Shortage Top Urban Problem

Water shortage has become the top problem facing China's rapid urbanization, as around two-thirds of its 661 cities suffer from this issue, according to the Ministry of Water Resources.


Among over 400 cities with water shortage problems, about 100 are in deep trouble, lacking enough water to support people's lives and industrial operations.


Worse, water pollution has rarified clean water. Over 70 billion tons of wastewater was released last year, with 45 billion tons pumped into lakes and rivers untreated.


Ministry figures show that 90 percent of surface runoff in the country is polluted.


The ministry issued a regulation recently that called for urban water affairs work to be strengthened to meet the increasing demands of speedy urban development, according to China News Agency.


The work should focus on controlling excessive urban development and avoiding high water-consumption industries as well as large-scale artificial water landscapes.


Groundwater needs to be exploited in a sustainable way, according to the regulation which also demands early warning and emergency systems for urban water crises.


Ministry figures showed that among some 600 cities at risk from floods, only 40 percent have flood defenses meeting national standards.


The ministry, in the regulation, has resorted to market-driven water pricing to cure its water shortage headache.


The National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) released a new regulation on the supervision of water pricing on November 13 to clarify what can and cannot be included in the cost of water supply.


The NDRC regulation suggested that the price of water be based on the cost of water supply, comprising the costs of tapping water resources, providing running water, constructing pipes and treating sewage.


(China Daily November 24, 2006)

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