China aims to safeguard groundwater with new rule

Source:China Daily Author:China Daily Date:2021-12-13

China will impose high penalties on violations that may jeopardize its groundwater resources with a new regulation, as it strives to address excessive exploitation and pollution of the resources, a senior official said.

Wei Shanzhong, vice-minister of water resources, made the remarks in a news conference organized by the State Council Information Office on Monday, following the publication of a recent regulation on groundwater management.

The first of its kind in China, the regulation will take effect on Dec 1, he said.

China has made marked progress in the management of groundwater. After peaking at 113.4 billion cubic meters in 2012, annual national groundwater exploitation across the country dropped to 89.2 billion cubic meters in 2020, he noted.

He said, however, China is still confronted with challenges in addressing excessive exploitation and pollution of the resources.

Currently, the excessive exploitation happens in most regions in the country. Every year, a total of 15.8 billion cubic meters of water are over-exploited, he said.

Of the 10,242 monitoring stations focusing on shallow groundwater, he said 22.7 percent had water at or above Grade III and 43.6 percent had water of Grade V, the worst quality in a five-tier water quality system.

He said he expected to see the new regulation play an important role in resolving the problems.

According to the regulation, the national authorities will cap groundwater exploitation in each provincial region, and pilot programs will be launched to levy taxes on groundwater consumption.

It also stipulates that the prices of groundwater in areas uncovered by the pilot should be higher than those for surface water.

The highest penalty included in the regulation is for stocking sludge resulting from sewage disposal, whether disposed or not, in rock fractures, karst caves or abandoned mining pits.

The minimum fine for such violations stands at least 200,000 yuan ($31,340). If serious consequences ensue, the fine will be 2 million yuan to 5 million yuan.

Groundwater consumers should fix metering equipment in their water exploitation facilities, or they will be fined up to 500,000 yuan. Under grave circumstances, their license for groundwater exploitation will be revoked.

Source: China Daily