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Something Has Happened to China’s taps


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Something must have happened to China’s taps. Every day, more than 4,000 water-treatment plants supply 60 million tonnes of water to 400 million people living in Chinese cities. Despite the impressive figures, the water industry is grappling with widespread criticism as concerns grow about the quality of its product.

The extent of the problem of China’s “dirty taps” remains elusive, however. While almost all academics in the field argue the country’s urban water supplies pose a “potential safety hazard”, practically no water-treatment plant rates its own water as below standard. When it comes to the water stone production line flowing into Chinese homes, the situation is looking rather cloudy.

This news was swiftly followed by release of more recent data from China’s health authorities. Wang Xuening, a health ministry official, said that figures gathered by a pilot monitoring scheme in 2011 suggested that 80% of the country’s urban tap water was up to standard.

That still leaves a 20% problem area. But after the news was reported, water bureaus from across the country came out to say the water from their treatment plants was up to scratch – the major cities Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou; the country’s provincial capitals, such as Nanjing, Hangzhou, and Changsha; and finally dozens of ‘tier three’ cities including Ningbo, Suzhou and Jiaxing staunchly defended the quality of their processed water.

Water experts point out that the severity of urban water pollution has stayed pretty much static in the two years between the 2009 and 2011 surveys; around 50% of sources are polluted. If you want to turn water like that into a tap-worthy product, at the very least you need to pump it through water-treatment plants equipped with the most advanced technology. But Chinese plants have widely failed to upgrade their systems in recent years. china cement mill:http://www.hx-china.com/20.html
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At the end of 2009, around 98% of the 4,000 water-treatment plants in cities above county level were still using conventional technology, according to a source close to the housing ministry’s urban water-quality monitoring centre. Today, only a handful of water-treatment plants – in major cities like Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen – are using cutting-edge methods, a situation that seems unlikely to change soon: “By the time new drinking-water standards are scheduled to come into effect on July 1, 2012, the proportion of water-treatment plants using advanced technology will have only increased by a single percentage point [since the end of 2009],” the source said. This means that, in the two-year gap between the two surveys, the percentage of plants using advanced technology increased at the most from 2% to 3% of the country’s total.

Meanwhile, in the five years since the plans for new standards were made public at the end of 2006, there has been little progress in upgrading water-treatment processes or transforming the country’s outdated network of water pipes. Chief engineer at the housing ministry’s water-quality monitoring unit Song Lanhe said that, in the immediate term, the new standards are only likely to act as a guide, and will be difficult to enforce. Local governments will continue to claim that their water quality “meets standards”.

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  • Posted On July 17, 2012
  • Published articles 10

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