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Call for more water quality monitoring stations

22 February 2012
A shortage of water quality monitoring stations is hindering China’s ability to respond to chemical spills in the nation’s waterways, said Hu Siyi, deputy minister of water resources.

In recent years, a large number of chemical manufacturers have established operations along the banks of rivers, especially along the Yangtze, China’s longest river. The Yangtze is a source of drinking water for millions of citizens.

“Government authorities cannot notice every accident in a timely manner because of the limited number of water quality monitoring sites across the country,” said Mr Hu. “In some areas, monitoring is done only once a month.”

In 2011, a total of 542 environmental accidents were handled nationwide, of which nearly 60 per cent were triggered by traffic accidents in the process of production, according to statistics from the Ministry of Environmental Protection.

Earlier this month, a leak of phenol from a cargo ship from South Korea potentially threatened the water supply in Zhenjiang, a city of 3m people in the eastern province of Jiangsu.

In January, the State Council published a document calling for a stricter water resources management system to address China’s water problems. The document stated that the government will control the total quantity of pollutants discharged into rivers to ensure water quality of key rivers and reservoirs across the country. It will also spend Rmb1.8bn to set up a nationwide information management system for water resources within the next three years.

“The country's monitoring of water resources is expected to greatly improve after the system goes into use,” Mr Hu said.

     
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