China, 26 September 2006: On September 14, a Beijing-based environmental organization began operating China’s first public database of nationwide water pollution. The database, named China Water Pollution Map (www.ipe.org.cn/water), provides information on water quality and the sources of water pollution discharge in 300 cities across China. It also lists more than 2,500 enterprises accused of causing water pollution.
While China’s booming coastal cities are stepping up efforts to protect the environment, its inland provinces are producing more and more industrial waste. “Even though China’s coastal provinces are still the major source of sewage, inland provinces have begun to top the list of industrial waste producers,” said Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs.
Ma said that since governments of coastal cities have taken measures to reduce pollution, some industries that cause heavy pollution have moved to less developed inland areas.
According to a database launched recently by Ma’s institution, South China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province and North China’s Hebei Province have since 2004 been the top three places in terms of organic waste in waterways.
Another inland province, Hunan, ranks first in discharging poisonous pollutants such as lead, chrome, cadmium and other toxic by-products of industrial production, according the database. “I am really shocked at how seriously and rapidly the inland waters are being polluted,” said Ma.
Ma, who has been tracing China’s water problems for years, said controlling the country’s water pollution is not a technical problem and local governments can afford the mechanism. Ma criticized local officials for turning a blind eye to the environment in their pursuit of economic profit.
Water pollution has become a serious problem in China. Nearly 70 per cent of China’s rivers and lakes are polluted to various degrees. China discharged 52.4 billion tons of wastewater in 2005, up 26 per cent form 2000. Only 52 per cent of the wastewater was treated before being discharged.