Nearly 300 Chinese Cities Lack Sewage Treatment

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As of late June, 297 cities in China had not yet built adequate sewage treatment plants, an official with the Ministry of Construction reported on October 10th. Of these nearly 300 cities, 63 are larger urban areas, including 8 with populations of more than 500,000. The Ministry urged these remaining cities to deal with their wastewater treatment problems quickly, noting that inspection would occur at a later date.

Sewage treatment in Chinese cities has developed rapidly in recent years, playing an important role in boosting urban water quality. By the end of 2004, 708 treatment plants had been built in 661 cities, with a combined capacity of 49 million cubic meters per day, twice the capacity in 2000. The annual amount treated is 16.3 billion cubic meters, up 43 percent from 2000. In total, 45.7 percent of all sewage in China is now treated.

Plant construction in China has been imbalanced, however, with eastern cities faring better than cities in the northeastern and western regions. Without adequate facilities to treat their sewage, cities either release this waste untreated into nearby rivers or dump it onto surrounding farmlands. The shortage of high-quality water has become a serious issue in many localities, and water pollution continues to threaten both public health and living standards.