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Huge efforts needed to improve water recycling

03-07-2014 21:12 BJT Special Report: 2014 NPC & CPPCC Sessions |

By CCTV reporter Han Peng

Hundreds of millions of people living in and around China’s main industrial zones lack a safe supply of adequate drinking water. That’s because of continued pollution of rivers and streams by heavy industry and domestic sewage. Authorities in Northern China say they’re introducing new water recycling technology to tackle the problem.

The industrial city of Tang Shan in north China produces more than half a million tons of sewage every day. Half of that is dangerous industrial waste from coal and steel factories. Even local authorities admit that the scale of the pollution in recent years has been appalling. At the frontline, trying to deal with the problem are the city’s water treatment plants.

“A decade ago, our plant could only collect a third of the wastewater. The rest went into the rivers and polluted the environment. Recently we’ve invested heavily, and can now collect over 98 percent of all wastewater.” said Kong Fanbo, Tangshan Drainage Group.

Kong says the first step is to sort out the larger waste items so they don’t damage the processing lines.

But the water remains highly toxic, even after the initial treatment. The plant has set up giant sewage settling tanks, inside which they use microbes to trigger a series of biochemical reactions, turning the unwanted material into sludge. Then almost miraculously, a rainbow begins to appear. Water at this stage can be used for irrigation. But it’s still not drinkable.

“The water is largely clean now. With a few more steps it can go back into rivers. But there’s a bigger challenge what do we do with the sludge?” said Wang Yijun, Director, Equipment Office, Tangshan Drainage Group.

The sludge is a combination of toxic materials and microbes. It creates a deadly odor. Authorities say turning it into safe fertilizer requires a sophisticated chemical cleanup process.

This is the industrial area, the economic heartland of Tangshan. The river here used to be heavily polluted. But years of clean up have finally brought the clear water back. Even the ducklings have now returned to their homes. However, if you take a look across the country, still, there are tens of thousands of towns, and tens of millions of people, struggling with water pollution.

China’s state-run China Daily newspaper says half the country’s tap water is undrinkable, according to national standards. The Government has acknowledged the existence of more than 400 "cancer villages" - areas with high cancer rates, mainly caused by toxic ground water.

Both water and air pollution are huge concerns for both the public, and the political leaders now convening in Beijing. Many people are now openly saying that growing the economy is pointless if it means basic human necessities like drinking water can’t be guaranteed.

Editor:James |Source: CCTV.com

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