More legal protections needed for water

Updated: 2014-05-13 13:46

By Li Yang (

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To protect China’s water resources, the government must match deeds to its words by granting the people more legal power to sue polluters, instead of only requiring people to save water as consumers, says an article in Southern Metropolis Daily. Excerpts:

The Jingjiang city government in Jiangsu province warned local residents on May 9 that the city would suspend its running water supply because the water quality of the Yangtze River section in Jingjiang dropped suddenly for unknown reasons. Bottled drinking water in supermarkets sold out overnight.

The government started investigating the causes of the river water pollution immediately, and the city’s emergency water storage is now being used to meet local residents’ demand of daily water consumption.

Since serious water pollution in Songhua River in Northeast China in 2005, China has experienced at least six regional water pollution cases across the country.

Statistics show almost all medium and large water bodies in rivers and lakes in China are polluted to different extents and 90 percent of groundwater in China is polluted. Some big cities have exhausted their groundwater deep into the ground, which should have been used by the current generation’s offspring in the future.

The government has done a lot to raise people’s awareness of saving water, including raising the water price by a large margin. Most Chinese know the value of clean water very well today.

The problem is that frugality at the consumption end alone cannot save the valuable water resources in China, if the government does not treat the pollution of water sources seriously.

Alas, it remains very difficult for common citizens and social organizations to file environmental charges against powerful polluters, who are State-owned enterprises or important taxpayers for local governments.

Although lawmakers passed a new Environmental Protection Law that gives more power to qualified social organizations to serve as watchdogs, the government still plays a key role in deciding which organizations meet the qualifications it set.

The urgency of China’s water pollution does not leave much time for the State legislature to waste or delay the making of pragmatic environmental protection laws to solve the environmental pollution crisis and tackle the people’s collective panic.

Otherwise, the government is only paying lip service to water protection, without making a big difference in effect.