Recycled Water Could Solve Beijing’s Water Woes, But Implementation Falls Short

In 2014, the capital began heavily relying on the South-North Water Transfer Project (SNWTP), a massive infrastructure project that shuttles water from the south of China to its arid northern region.
Before China began building the world’s largest water transfer project, the Beijing government recognized that depleting regional reservoirs was not a viable long-term strategy.
Thus the city government turned to water recycling, which is a practice of reusing treated wastewater.
Yet the city has only five municipal-run centralized reuse treatment plants.
Currently, Beijing’s industrial sector uses 20 percent of Beijing’s reclaimed water.
Less than 50 percent of decentralized water recycling systems in Beijing are used.
Huo Chang’s CECEP colleague Jun Du explains: “My home has the zhōng shuǐ tap used for toilet flushing.
Huo Chang’s company estimates that currently only 10 percent of residential and commercial customers in Beijing have access to centralized reuse water, despite a majority of Beijingers’ stronger confidence in it.
Policymakers need to shift their focus to creating sustainable and more centralized water reuse systems that are well monitored.
For a more in-depth analysis of Beijing’s water recycling policies and their implementation gaps, see Danielle Neighbour’s forthcoming publication in the Chinese Journal of Population Resources and Environment.

Energy hogs: China targets farm waste as a ‘clean’ power source

Energy hogs: China targets farm waste as a ‘clean’ power source.
By Hallie Gu and Josephine Mason BEIJING, Aug 30 (Reuters) – China will pay farmers to turn animal poo into fertiliser and power, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Wednesday, as Beijing cracks down on agricultural pollution that has for years leaked into rivers and lakes, angering Chinese residents.
China will give farmers subsidies to build animal waste processing facilities to make fertilisers or to treat manure so it’s safe for disposal, and to install biogas plants that use methane to generate electricity, according a government plan announced on Aug. 1.
The plan includes setting up recycling programmes by 2020 in 200 major counties that have livestock farms.
That’s less than half the 586 major counties the government says have hog and poultry farms.
"We will help the farmers fully understand how organic fertiliser can improve energy efficiency and the environment," said Zhong Luqing, director of the fertiliser department at the ministry, at a briefing on Wednesday.
Those researching and using organic fertiliser will also get preferential treatment on loans, taxes, power use and land rent, Zhong said.
"We will strengthen policy support and increase subsidies to support farmers to use organic fertiliser … especially large-scale farmers, family farms and cooperatives," Zhong said.
The plan is part of Beijing’s effort to limit chemical fertilisers and pesticides, which have contaminated soil and water.
Beijing has said it was targeting zero growth of chemical fertiliser and pesticide by 2020.

Sponge City: Solutions for China’s Thirsty and Flooded Cities

Flooding is just one of the major water management issues facing China’s urban areas.
They use nature-based solutions, such as rain gardens, green roofs, constructed wetlands, and permeable pavement, to naturally capture, slow down, and filter stormwater.
Moreover, the Ministry of Finance offers additional funding (up to 10 percent of the initial amount) for cities that develop public-private partnerships to finance or operate sponge city projects.
These cities have begun developing plans, securing financing, and implementing sponge city projects.
Wuhan, which has invested two billion RMB in 104 projects, efficiently managed heavy storms on June 11, 2016.
For example, in 2010, New York City released a city-wide green infrastructure plan that integrates new rain gardens and green roofs into existing stormwater systems to improve overall performance at a projected cost of $5.3 billion, $1.5 billion less than a comparable gray infrastructure approach.
China’s central government is providing a significant amount of funding for the pilot cities, but the subsidies are far from enough to fully fund sponge city construction.
Even though the central government is offering financial incentives to encourage the use of public-private partnerships, securing private investment could be difficult.
Nevertheless, leveraging private sector financing is crucial for the success of the sponge city program, so local governments will need to identify innovative financing tools to operationalize their sponge city plans.
There are four possible ways Chinese city governments could finance sponge cities: Levy a surcharge to supplement existing water resource fees.

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Beijing municipal government has focused its attention on clean energy development, improving water treatment and garbage disposal, and other environmentally friendly initiatives in recent years, said Fang Li, director of the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau.
Beijing has invested more than 250 billion yuan ($37 billion) in 133 environmentally focused projects, with an average annual growth rate of 10 percent for funds dedicated to environmental projects in the last five years.
The Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the Ministry of Environmental Protection have called for the authorities to cut more than 40 percent of the amount of “black and smelly water” in builtup urban areas in 2016 and totally eliminate it by the end of this year.
To this end, Beijing has taken measures such as sewage interception and sediment dredging, with the aim of maintaining clean and safe water.
The city is promoting renovation of black and smelly waterways through drainage recycling and ecological management, among other methods, said Pan Anjun, spokesman of the Beijing Water Authority.
The construction and reconstruction of 42 facilities and refuse-processing plants has improved the city’s capacity to incinerate garbage, which has now reached 9,800 tons per day.
The amount of biochemical treatment has reached 5,400 tons per day, Sun said.
It plans to cover more of the outskirts of Beijing with greenery to form a stronger barricade against pollution.
In the future, parks in the Future Center located in Changping district, Shallow mountain in Shunyi district, Beijing Yanqi Lake Ecological Demonstration Zone and other six parks covering more than 5,000 hectares will be put into operation.

China, ADB launch green financing platform to fight pollution

SHANGHAI, June 16 (Reuters) – China and the Asia Development Bank (ADB) have launched a green financing platform to support efforts by small- and medium-sized enterprises to cut pollution in the smog-hit Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, ADB said on Friday. The area, home to six of China’s 10 smoggiest cities in the first quarter of this year, has promised to upgrade or shut vast swathes of polluting industry as it tries to meet 2017 air quality targets. But financing the transition to cleaner energy has proved one of its biggest challenges, especially in poorer rural regions of Hebei, where the switch from coal to natural gas is expected to cost at least 300 billion yuan ($44.04 billion) over the 2016-2020 period. The financing platform was launched by the ADB and the China National Investment and Guaranty Corporation (I&G), the…

China’s lake pollution cut by a third but water quality still an issue

Beijing: There are signs of hope for China’s notoriously polluted waterways.
A study published in Nature Geoscience has shown phosphorus pollution – a major cause of algal blooms – has fallen by a third in China’s lakes.
Share on Facebook SHARE Share on Twitter TWEET Link Researchers from China’s Renmin University, Peking University and Tianjin University, along with the Norwegian Water Research Institute, sampled water from 862 lakes.
The number of extremely polluted lakes fell by two-thirds between 2006 and 2014.
Ms Deng said a recent study by Greenpeace had found almost half of Chinese provinces didn’t meet the water quality targets set in the 2011-2015 Five-Year Plan.
A water pollution plan introduced by China’s State Council in 2015, covering the next five years, will focus on improving overall water quality, not merely eliminating pollutants, she said.
Share on Facebook SHARE Share on Twitter TWEET Link The Chinese government’s focus on fighting pollution, and the new pressure on officials to meet environmental goals, was brought into sharp focus by the recent shutdown of thousands of tourism businesses on Erhai Lake in Yunnan province.
Chinese media reported last week that instead of the usual throng of summer tourists in the streets, scores of red banners proclaiming "If Erhai lake is clean, Dali will thrive" dominate the streetscape.
Small business owners, many of whom were dubbed "smog refugees" after moving their families to Erhai’s shoreline from Beijing and Shanghai to escape air pollution, have been left without income.
According to the study in Nature Geoscience, improvements in sanitation facilities such as pipelines and waste water treatment plants were the major reason phosphorus levels had fallen in the lakes sampled.

Beijing’s “Summit Blue”: What Does It Say about China’s Smog Woes?

30, 2017 | | 0 comments When some 30 world leaders and hundreds of other dignitaries gathered in Beijing between May 14 and 16, 2017, for the first Belt and Road Forum, they were greeted by clear blue skies, which are rare most of the year but common at major international events like the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2008.
Environmental pollution is a global issue that most fast-growing economies have had to face, and is related to many factors such as economic structure, technological level, political systems, governance capacity, institution building, as well as public awareness and social participation.
China’s economic miracles over the last three decades have imposed enormous pressures upon the country’s already worsened environment and scant resources, with mounting ecological problems like air pollution, water pollution and shortages, soil contamination, desertification, and loss of bio-diversity having caught intensive attention from the Chinese government, domestic public, and international community.
In the long run, the Chinese government needs to introduce more economic incentives and disincentives to curb pollution and ecological destruction instead of relying too much on short-term administrative orders.
By enhancing its capacity for environmental governance, Chinese authorities have made concrete steps in curbing pollution with environmental conservation tasks having risen to the highest platform in the political agenda of the ruling Communist Party of China (Carter and Mol, 2007; Economy, 2007).
For years the Chinese government has been reporting daily air pollution levels at major cities based on the data collected from monitoring stations around those cities by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and its local branches.
Smog in Beijing is an image problem as well as a health hazard for hundreds of millions of city dwellers.
The smog woes experienced by Chinese cities can be mainly attributed to the extensive use of coal, the growing number of motor vehicles and the ongoing massive urbanization and industrialization process in the country.
Environmental Governance in China.
Gang Chen is Senior Research Fellow at the East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore.

Govt steps up effort to curb water pollution

Process will be time-consuming and expensive: experts The contaminated pits recently found in North China are symptomatic of a larger problem, but the central government is stepping up efforts to curb water pollution across the country although the process is hard and time-consuming, experts said Monday.
China’s environmental authorities moved faster this time than before, with an immediate investigation, quickly arranged treatment plan and timely updates about the situation, according to Li.
The Ministry of Environmental Protection (MEP) launched a probe with the Hebei provincial government on the pits on Wednesday morning and confirmed that they were polluted by the afternoon.
The two pits were caused by digging years ago and were polluted in 2013 by illegal pouring of sulfuric acid, said the ministry, citing Dacheng government.
It would cost around 200 million yuan ($29 million) to treat the pollution from the 170,000-square-meter pit in Hebei, The Beijing News report said, citing industrial experts.
Water pollution treatment is difficult because the process involves many economic interests, said Bai Ou, a Beijing-based industrial expert.
China’s environmental laws are not comprehensive at the moment, and the central government is expected to put forward more effective rules, according to Bai.
More efforts "It is quite urgent to treat water pollution, but the process is difficult and will take many decades, based on similar experience in other countries like Japan," said Li.
With the development of the Jingjinji area (Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region), sewerage treatment is not merely the responsibility of Hebei Province or Tianjin Municipality, and it involves more joint efforts to cover wider areas, Bai said, adding that this effort would have to apply not only in North China, but the whole country.
North China suffers from many forms of pollution, affecting water, soil and air quality due to the large volume of heavily polluting industries in the region, including mining, steel and coal, experts said, noting that the central and local governments are expected to increase efforts to curb the pollution.

Beijing city officials shirking smog blame, China’s environmental watchdog says

Beijing city officials shirking smog blame, China’s environmental watchdog says.
“Some local cadres blame environmental problems on external causes,” the ministry’s Central Environmental Protection Inspectorate group said.
“They have insufficient understanding of the actual reasons involved, and where their own blame lies.” Since 2013, Beijing’s government has spent 68.3 billion yuan (US$9.92 billion or HK$77.1 billion) on environmental protection and cut coal consumption from 23 million tonnes to 9.5 million tonnes last year.
But the capital continues to choke on smog, due in large part to the tens of thousands of diesel vehicles on its roads.
Inadequate sewage treatment has also left local water sources with significant concentrations of pollutants, according to a report by Caixin.
China’s economic growth has taken a heavy toll on its environment, with factories and headlong urbanisation poisoning skies, rivers and soil.
While top leaders have pledged to take serious steps in the “war on pollution”, local governments have been criticised for lax enforcement of regulations.
Recent central government investigations found pervasive polluting by manufacturers in the urban cluster of Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei and surrounding areas.
Some 72 per cent of 847 enterprises inspected earlier this week had committed environmental violations, a government statement stated.
Some companies had engaged in illegal production, while others emitted excess amounts of pollutants or had pollution control facilities that were not in operation or incomplete.

Groundwater shortage calls for urgent action

China has 20 percent of the world’s population but less than 6 percent of the groundwater.
Desalination could be another solution.
The resultant dependence on and over-extraction of groundwater are having severe impacts on Beijing, including subsidence.
Long Di, a researcher at Tsinghua University’s Institute of Hydrology and Water Resources, says: "Subsidence is a slow but progressive disaster, and it is irreversible.
The problem is particularly acute in Chaoyang district, which borders Beijing’s eastern suburbs-areas that are rapidly expanding with dense, high-rise buildings.
What makes the problem more challenging is that many buildings in Beijing’s rapidly subsiding districts are far taller.
One example is California’s 2015 water shortage.
California also encouraged municipalities to actively manage demand, and many imposed surcharges on individual users who exceeded stipulated limits.
China’s demand profile for water does not closely resemble California’s; both markets have high usage for agriculture (64 percent in China and 80 percent in California), but China’s manufacturing activity as a share of economic output is larger than California’s.
This is a crucial step in aggressively addressing groundwater depletion in urban areas, including Beijing.