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Circular of the State Council on Urban Water Supply, Saving Water and Water Pollution Control

(Issued by the State Council on November 7,2000)

China is a country deficient in water resources and problems of water deficiency in cities is especially serious. With the economy developing and urbanization process being sped up, at present a quite number of cities are lacking in water resources, the scope of urban water shortage is constantly expanding and the degree of water shortage is increasingly serious. Meanwhile, problems relevant to the unreasonable pricing of water consumption, failure in fulfilling measures to save water and serious water pollution are comparatively very outstanding. To strengthen and improve the work of urban water supply, water-saving, prevention and control of water pollution and promote the sustainable economic and social development, now the circular on the relative issues is as following:

1. Raising Understanding Awareness and Unifying Thinking


(1) The sustainable usage of water resources is the strategic issue of China's economic and social development, its core is to raise efficiency of water usage. To resolve problems of urban water shortage directly bears on the people's life, social stability and urban sustainable development. This is not only an urgent task of China's present economic and social development, but also a major problem concerning the long term development of modernization construction. All the regions and departments should pay high attention to this issue, adopt practical and forceful measures and seriously do the best job in urban water supply, saving water and preventing water pollution.

(2) In doing the best job of urban water supply, saving water and preventing water from being polluted, it is necessary to persist in principles of putting the same stress on broadening water resources and saving water, preventing water from being polluted as the foundation, scientifically broadening water resources and comprehensively using water so as to provide a guarantee for the safe and reliable water supply and good water environment, and to support and ensure the sustainable development of urban economic and social development by the sustainable usage of water resources.

2. Unifying Planning, Optimizing Disposition and Multi-Channel Ensuring of Urban Water Supply

(1) All the regions shall put consideration and arrangement of urban water supply in priority in studying of and working out plans for valleys and regional water resources. Based on plans of valleys and regional water resources, the programmes of comprehensively using urban water resources shall be worked out as quickly as possible and incorporated them as integral components into the overall plans of urban economic and social development. The plans of comprehensively using urban water resources shall comprise plans on middle and long term supply and demand, water resources of water supply, saving water, turning sewage into resources and protection of water resources. For cities with particularly  water resources shortage shall practice to transfer water from cross-regions on the basis of comprehensively considering water resource potential, doing their utmost to save water and control of water pollution and according to the implementation of plans of valley water resources.

(2) To strengthen unified plans and management of urban water resources, and take the strengthening of the unified management of exploiting and using water resources as main point. It is necessary to scientifically define the order of water resources of water supply. The water used in the cities shall be to use ground water first and then underground water, to use local water first and then cross-regional water.  Measures on gradually change the pattern of urban water supply from one water system, one reservoir, one river course to the pattern of "connecting many reservoirs, netting the water systems, jointly transferring ground water and underground water and optimizing imposition of water resources" shall be adopted. It is necessary to set up an emergency management system at the dry season and successive dry seasons, compile emergency plan in advance and enhance the guarantee rate of urban water supply. It is necessary to strictly control and gradually reduce the exploitation quota of underground water and establish the coordination and control system of drawing water off from the rivers, lakes, brakes and dams in order to guarantee environmental water supply for the urban rivers and lakes. In the future within the recovery scope of urban water supply pipes and net, the establishment of new self-reserved water resources will not be approved. As for the original self-reserved water resources the levied fees of water resource will be raised and then quota of water which may be taken will be reduced and till completely cancelled. In the cities whose underground water is seriously exploited it is strictly forbidden to build any new water supply facilities to take underground water, and it is also strictly forbidden to approve but to gradually reduce the number of institutions and quota of using underground water.

(3) It is to vigorously advocate the exploitation and use of non-traditional water supply such as recovery and usage of sewage and incorporate them into the unified management and allocation of water resources. In the cities with a serious water shortage during the dry seasons measures to exploitation and usage of rainy water, floodwater and slight saltwater shall be put into attention and in the coastal cities it is necessary to pay attention to desalination treatment of sea water and direct use of it.

3. Persisting to Give Priority to Saving Water and Striving to Build Water Saving Cities

(1) While engaging in urban construction and distribution of industrial and agricultural production, it is necessary to fully consider the bearing capacity of water resources. All the regions and particularly the People's governments of cities should reasonably define the scale of their own cities, readjust and optimize urban economic structure and production layout according to the local water resources, water environmental capacity and urban functions. To launch greatly activities to save water with building up water saving cities as the target. To save water, the cities shall accomplish "three simultaneousnesses and four implementations", i.e., simultaneously design, build and put into operation the main body of construction projects and watersaving measures; the institutions which take and use water must work out the plans of using water, define the target of saving water, adopt water-saving measures and the system of managing water. The cities having conditions will gradually establish a reference system for different industrial trades the water consumption index per every 10,000 yuan (reminbi) GDP so as to promote the readjustment of production structure and spread and application of water saving technology. The cities lacking in water shall close, stop, merge and transfer a batch of industrial enterprises which consume a great deal of water within the limit time and shall strictly limit the construction of industrial projects with high water consumption and agricultural extensive use of water and set up water-saving economic structure as quickly as possible. The cities where the repeated usage rate of water is lower than 40 percent are not allowed to again increase amount of water used by the industry and limit the new construction of water supply projects.

(2) It is to energetically implement the national water saving technological policies and technological standard and work out enforcement standards of applying water saving utensils. It is to actively popularize the application of water-saving utensils, raise the usage efficiency of water for the daily life and save water resources. It is necessary to work out the water saving policy to encourage the households to replace water-saving utensils and disuse utensils which do not conform to the standard of water for daily use. The utensils of using water which do not conform to the water saving standard will not be allowed to be continuously used in the new, reconstructed and extension buildings; all the buildings which do not reach the standard will not be supplied with water after the approval by the urban People's governments. The utensils installed by all the institutions in their buildings which do not conform to the water-saving standards must be replaced by water saving ones before 2005.

(3) The effective measures must be adopted in order to speed up the technological innovation of water-supply pipes and nets and decrease the rate of leaking water from pipes and nets. The cities with over 200,000 people will accomplish the comprehensive survey of water supply pipes and nets before 2002, establish completely technological archives of water supply pipes and nets and work out reform plans of pipes and nets. The water supply pipes and nets which have been used for more than 50 years and the aging ones in the old city districts will be replaced with the new ones and reformed before 2005.

4. Resolutely Controlling Sewerage and Strengthening Water Environmental Protection

(1) It is necessary to seriously carry out the Law on Prevention and Control of Sewage of the People's Republic of China and improve ground water quality within the limit time. Strictly according to the relevant regulations and requirements of the urban total plan, the programme of preventing water from being polluted will be organized and compiled, the water functional areas divided, the capacity of pollutants discharge decided, the total amount of water pollutants controlled and allocated to the institutions of pollutants discharge. The ground water quality in the municipalities directly under the Central Government, provincial capitals, cities of the special economic zones, coastal open cities and major tourist ones must reach to the standard stipulated by the state. During the Tenth Five-Year Plan all the cities shall work out programmes for improvement of water quality and implement the management system of transregional valley water quality which will reach to the standard. They shall organize and formulate plans for protecting drinking water, divide and decide the protection zones of drinking water resources, strictly forbid all the activities to develop and build in the protection zones of drinking water resources and mainly protect the places of water resources for the urban drinking water of daily life. The cities with population of over 200,000 shall establish the system of 10-day report on water quality of water resource places before 2002 and the communique system of water environment of drinking water for daily use in Beijing, Shanghai and other 45 major environmental protection cities will be carried out.

(2) Strengthening protection of underground water resources. Because of the overextraction of underground water, the cities with large-scale earth subsidence or sea saltwater flowing backward have appeared. The range of overextraction shall be defined and made public to the society and the projects shall be built to replace water sources and artificial reirrigation of underground water. While building urban green belts, lining the river course and cover non-roads, the need of circulation of natural water ecological system shall be taken into consideration. It is to actively launch prevention of pollution in the agricultural surface resources and comprehensively control the pollution of livestock, birds and aquatic planting. The Law on Water of the People's Republic of China and Law on Flood Control of the People's Republic of China must be strictly implemented, to dump solid waste materials into the lakesides, river banks and water bodies must be strictly forbidden and the river courses must be controlled and cleaned up within a limit time.

(3) It is to actively carry out the clean production, further reduce amount of pollutants discharge and intensify to control the pollution sources. To prevent and control the industrial pollution is an important task of  preventing and controlling the pollution of urban water. It is necessary to intensify clean production and speed up the transformation from the main prevention and control of industrial pollution at the end into the control of whole production process. The dynamic of work of "reaching two standards and one control" shall be greatly strengthened. Those enterprises which cannot reach to the standard of discharge are ordered to stop production or close down within a limit time. During the Tenth Five-Year Plan, the industrial enterprises shall shift themselves from reach to the standard of main pollutants discharge to comprehensively reach the standard of total discharge.

(4) During the Tenth Five-Year Plan all the cities as municipalities must build sewage treatment facilities. By 2005 the sewage treatment rate in the cities with the population of over half a million shall reach over 60 percent; by 2010 the sewage treatment rate in the cities as municipalities shall be not less than 60 percent and the sewage treatment rate in the municipalities directly under the Central Government, capital cities of province, independent accounting municipalities and main scenic and tourist cities not less than 70 percent. While building new water-supply facilities in the future, the cities shall plan to build corresponding sewage treatment facilities, and in cities lacking in water resources the construction of reusage facilities of sewage shall be arranged at the same time of planning to construct sewage treatment facilities. The urban big-and medium-size public buildings and the institutions which have their water sources outside the cover of public water-supply nets shall build medium sized systems and gradually expand the construction of medium-sized systems in small residential areas. The supervision and management of the operation of urban sewage treatment facilities and reusage facilities shall be strengthened.

5. Perfecting Mechanism and Speeding up the Pace of Water Price Reform

(1) It is to actively introduce market mechanism, open up channel of financing, encourage and attract social funds and foreign funds into construction and operation of urban sewage treatment facilities and projects of reusage so as to speed up steps of building urban sewage treatment facilities. The State will adopt effective measures to collect funds for construction, further increase input of funds into construction and give more funds to the sewage treatment facilities in small cities and towns and western regions of China; the State will exempt value-added taxes for sewage treatment fees collected by all the places; and to expedite the depreciation of equipment bought for city water supply and sewage treatment engineerings. All the places shall carry out necessary funds for urban sewage treatment projects invested by the State; the collected sewage treatment fee will be specially used for specified purpose only and used in a rolling way. The effective measures will be taken to guarantee repayment of loans for regular operation and construction of urban sewage treatment facilities and principal plus interest of bonds.

(2) To gradually raise water price is the effective measure to save water. It is to speed up the pace of water price reform, rationalize price of supplying water as quickly as possible and set a scientific and perfect mechanism of water price to encourage saving of water step by step. It is to raise the standard of levying fee for underground water resources and control the amount of exploiting underground water. The People's governments at all levels and particularly the urban People's governments shall formulate quota system of using water in their regions and readjustment plans of urban water price as quickly as possible according to the relevant stipulations of the State and timely readjust them in accordance with their regional economic development level and supply and demand of their water sources. While gradually raising water price, the planning use of water and quota management shall be continuously implemented and the system of accumulatively increasing fee will be carried out for using water beyond the plan and above the quota; in cities lacking in water resources shall implement a system of high accumulatively increasing price system.

(3) All the cities as municipalities shall begin to levy sewage treatment fee as quickly as possible according to the stipulations of the State. While readjusting price of urban water supply and standard of sewage treatment fee, all the places shall give priority to readjust the level of ensuring cost and winning slight profits in order to meet demand of construction and operation of sewage treatment facilities. The enterprises which supply water and treat sewage shall also constantly deepen the reform, change economic mechanism, strengthen management and decrease the cost. The relevant departments of the State Council shall pay attention to studying and deciding the reasonable price of reusing sewage, promoting and encouraging the reusage of sewage.

6. Strengthening the Leadership, Perfecting Law and Regulations, Increasing Urban Water Supply and Enhancing Work Level of Water Saving and Prevention and Control of Water Pollution

(1) All the regions and departments should practically strengthen organizational leadership, incorporate this work into the national economic and social development plan, unify to arrange and comprehensively deploy it. The main leaders of the People's governments at all local levels and especially the main leaders of urban People's governments shall be comprehensively responsible for water supply, water saving and work of preventing and controlling water pollution. The relevant departments of the State Council shall strengthen cooperation, closely coordinate and timely coordinate and resolve contradictions and issues to meet in their work strictly according to the procedure and divisions of duties stipulated by the relevant laws and regulations of the state.

(2) While working out and implementing plans of water resources, all the regions and departments shall have clear goals, optimize projects, implement measures and coordinate their actions. They shall coordinate and unify various links of protecting, exploiting and using water resources, consider about issues of urban flood control, flood drainage, water supply, watersaving, control of water pollution, recovery and use of sewage and protection of urban water environment, properly arrange water for the inhabitants life, industry, agriculture and ecological environment and handle all the contradictions of using water.

(3) It is necessary to strengthen the license system of taking water and pollutants discharge and establish the demonstrative system of water resources of the construction projects and appraisal one of using and saving water. All the places shall strengthen the supervision, management and annual examination of the license system of taking water and  strictly approve the license of taking water. All the construction projects which need to handle licenses of taking water must make demonstrations on water resources. In the future new and extension projects in the cities shall have the contents of using water and appraising watersaving in their feasibly study reports. It is necessary to strictly carry out the appraisal system of environmental influence, implement the system of controlling total amount of pollutants discharge and permitting discharge of pollutants, and all discharging of pollutants must be subject to permission.

(4) According to the requirements of socialist market economic development and strengthening urban water supply, water saving and prevention and control of water pollution, it is necessary to speed up the pace of legislation, further complement, revise and perfect relevant laws and regulations and establish the systems of laws and regulations on scientific urban water supply, water saving and prevention and control of water pollution in accordance with China's national conditions. All the regions and departments shall run matters strictly according to the law, strictly implement the law, further strengthen the dynamic of implementation of the law and supervision and gradually incorporate the work of urban water supply, water-saving and prevention and control of water pollution into the track of legalization and standardization.


(5) All the regions, departments and press units shall adopt effective forms to launch broad, deep and sustained propaganda and education to make all the citizens to master scientific water knowledge and set up a correct concept of water. It is necessary to strengthen the education of national condition on serious deficiency in water resources, increase the sense of the whole society concerning about water and make the broad masses to understand that protection of water resources and environment is the responsibility of every citizen. It is to change backward concept and habit of using water and turn the construction of water saving and pollution preventive cities into the common conscious action of cadres and masses. It is necessary to strengthen the supervision of public opinion and publicly expose actions of wasting water and damaging water quality. Meanwhile, it is necessary to extensively propagate and spread good methods of scientific usage of water and water saving. The good production and way of life of saving water, rationally using water, preventing and controlling water pollution and protecting water resources shall be formed in the whole society.

(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)

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