The Chinese government has announced that it will provide a handful of cities with additional funding to allow them to clean up their highly-polluted rivers and waterways. Approximately 20 cities were selected for the pilot scheme at the end of last year, with more being earmarked for future years if all goes well.
Each of the chosen cities will receive an additional 600 million yuan (SGD 121 million) per year until 2020, as the government aims to clean up the “black and stinking” contamination of certain rivers. Indeed, the overall cost of the operation could rise to as much as one trillion yuan (SGD 202 billion), according to the director of the water department in the Chinese environment ministry, Zhang Bo.
“Black and stinking”
A total of 39 cities were named and shamed last August by the Chinese government for failing to meet their environmental obligation with regard to water quality in the first half of 2018. The first 20 to benefit from the aid scheme have already been named, and it is expected that others will receive similar funding in the future.
China is hoping that eliminating such pollution will allow it to capitalise on those water reserves and use them for other projects, such as agricultural and manufacturing water supplies.
Cleaning up their act
Cognisant of the fact that high-resolution monitoring is necessary for river conservation, the government is directing municipalities to spend the money on innovative engineering solutions and tighter enforcement of pollution-control legislation.
The chosen cities are also being encouraged to participate in alternative methods of raising capital, such as entering into public-private partnerships. It’s hoped that diversifying their income streams will allow municipalities to invest greater sums in water pollution and wastewater treatment methods and plants.
Showing signs of progress
The latest official statistics have shown small signs of progress. The latest round of sample-taking from sites all across the country revealed that 70 per cent of groundwater is acceptable for human usage, which is an improvement upon the 67.9 per cent reported in 2017. Meanwhile, 6.9 per cent of samples were found to have “lost all functionality”, which was counted as an improvement on the 8.3 per cent discovered last year. The government is currently hoping to bring that percentage down to 5 per cent by the end of 2020.
China is also looking to clean up the water quality of its seas and surrounding bays, as well as inland waterways. Last year, a new washwater monitor was installed on a scrubber retrofit in order to boost the old vessel’s environmental credentials and work towards a broader goal of eliminating unnecessary pollution.