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发布时间:2020-03-26 来源: 美文摘抄 点击:

  Thirty years ago, UN experts sounded the alarm bells when they warned that a water crisis would follow hot on the heels of the oil crisis. In China, two scenarios exist.
  While China’s south is abundant in water resources, the arid, semiarid and mountainous regions in the north, accounting for 40 percent of the country, are short of water. In north China alone, about 47 million residents live on less than 15 liters of water a day.
  The scarcity and uneven distribution of water resources have resulted in not only rising water prices, but also a booming water market. According to Xia Qing, a researcher at the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, China’s water industry will grow at an annual rate of 15 percent for the foreseeable future.
  In 2001-05, the annual output value of the water supply industry jumped from less than 70 billion yuan to nearly 200 billion yuan. The rate of urban sewage treatment climbed from 29 percent to 45 percent. In 2005 alone, sewage treatment became big business, worth over 40 billion yuan. The Chinese Government continues to focus much of its attention on the water industry during the current five-year plan (2006-10). The great potential of China’s water industry and also the ongoing reform of the water pricing regime have attracted foreign investors in the droves.
  Water-related companies from 25 countries attended the International Trade Fair for Environmental Protection (IFAT) China 2006 held in Shanghai in June. Eugen Egetenmeir, Deputy Managing Director of Munich Trade Fairs International Group, co-organizers of IFAT China 2006, told Beijing Review that a report issued by the institute of Deutsche Bank at the end of January 2006 indicates that China is to invest multi-billion dollars in its environment industry, providing companies working in environmental protection with promising prospects. The positive response to this exhibition invitation reveals that China’s surging water market has already become a focus of much international attention, he added.
  It’s all about the money
  Since the beginning of 2006, water price hikes have been frequently reported across China. Government officials in relevant departments have reiterated on many occasions the importance of reforming the water pricing regime and imposing a higher charge for the exploitation of water resources. In southwest China’s Sichuan Province, the water price rose 16.4 percent in the first quarter, resulting from the growing cost of sewage treatment and water resources.
  According to the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner and price regulator, current water prices are growing 10 percent annually. A plan by the commission to adjust the prices of various resources indicates that water prices will continue to increase, and following the completion of the south-to-north water diversion project in 2007, the price may reach as high as 7 yuan per cubic meter for end users in some northern regions.   Water prices have been on the rise in the past decade. Since 1949, the price of tap water had been kept far lower than the production cost, a situation that only changed in 1991. Take Beijing for example. The tap water price was lifted to 0.3 yuan per cubic meter from the original 0.12 yuan that year. The present water price for household use in the capital is 3.7 yuan per cubic meter, which is composed of a 1.7 yuan of tap water fee, 1.1 yuan water resources fee and 0.9 yuan for sewage treatment.
  According to Xia at the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, by 2008 the water tariff for certain purposes in Beijing is likely to hit 8 yuan per cubic meter, together with a rising charge for sewage treatment.
  Wang Jianhua is a lawmaker in the Beijing Municipal People’s Congress. In his opinion, higher water prices will not only boost the industry as a whole, but will also encourage people to save water and promote an optimal use of water resources.
  At present, the water price in China is made up of fees for water resources, water project construction and sewage treatment. Reportedly, the water pricing reform would allow the water resource fee to cover a wider range, while the tariffs for water project construction and wastewater treatment are to be rationally adjusted. Such an adjustment is expected to bring about a price increase in urban areas.
  The upwards trend of water prices was confirmed by Xu Kunlin, Deputy Director of the Price Department of the National Development and Reform Commission, who also revealed that fees were to be imposed on all kinds of water resources according to the severity of the water shortage in different areas. The cost of ground water may be the highest of all fees, he said.
  Nowadays, the wastewater treatment charge is so low that it can’t even pay for the day-to-day operation of the business. Industry experts predict that the next logical step therefore is to increase this fee, to ensure that plants become profitable.
  Monopoly stifling the market
  GETTING TREATED: Beijing’s Gaobeidian Sewage Treatment Plant is the largest of its kind in China
  Before 2004, as part of public utilities, the water market was operated by the government and state-owned enterprises (such as the municipal construction, water supply and sewage treatment companies). Although stable and profitable, this market is nevertheless inaccessible for non-public enterprises and operates under a monopoly. Foreign investment could change all this.
  China’s burgeoning economy has greatly promoted its water market. According to the Municipal Construction Department under the Ministry of Construction, the water market is mainly engaged in the business of water supply and sewage treatment. Statistics show that the gross water consumption in 2005 amounted to 554.7 billion cubic meters, which is expected to arrive at 710 billion cubic meters by 2030 to meet the country’s development. Urban demand will reach 132 billion cubic meters, up 4.3 percent, which will drive the steady growth of the water supply industry.   Apart from water supply, wastewater treatment is also a fast growing industry. According to statistics from the Ministry of Construction, by the end of 2005, over 700 sewage treatment plants had been set up around the country and the plants in urban areas saw an increase of 43 percent over 2000. However, sewage discharge always outpaces treatment and water quality deterioration in the country’s major rivers is far from being under control. The progressive industrialization and the Chinese Government’s attention to environmental protection will inevitably build the business of urban sewage treatment into a promising industry.
  According to the Beijing Municipal Administration of Environmental Protection, every year the city sees a discharge of around 1.2 billion cubic meters of wastewater into rivers, almost half of which is not treated. In recent years, the annual input in local sewage treatment infrastructure has amounted to 1 billion yuan, which is used to upgrade the sewage treatment techniques and improve water quality in rivers, lakes and reservoirs. By 2008, another nine sewage treatment plants will have been set up across Beijing, aimed at getting 90 percent of wastewater treated. Investment in this area is expected to rise to 2 billion yuan a year by that time.
  Due to inadequate input in environmental protection over the past decades, China has fallen far behind developed countries in terms of such indexes as the input in urban sewage treatment, the rate of sewage treatment and the ratio of treatment plants to population.
  Wang Yangzu, President of the China Association of Environmental Protection Industry, said China is eager to remove all the obstacles in its environmental protection process, but to achieve this objective it’s necessary to attract foreign investment and import advanced technologies and expertise.
  In 2004, the Chinese Government proposed to remove the monopoly in favor of a more open public utilities market. The market-oriented reform will gradually make the water industry available to foreign investors. In line with China’s World Trade Organization accession commitments, customs duties on environmental protection products will be cut to 6.9 percent in 2008 from the current 13.4 percent.
  In addition, achievements in environmental protection have been included in the performance appraisal system for local governments. These measures are expected to further kindle foreign investors’ enthusiasm for China’s environmental protection market.
  Egetenmeir told Beijing Review that encouraged by preferential policies, wholly foreign-owned enterprises and Sino-foreign joint ventures have already taken up 75 percent of the environmental protection industry market in China. Most of these businesses are engaged in the three new areas of environmental protection of air purification (especially flue gas desulfurization), water purification (especially urban sewage treatment) and manufacturing of environmental protection equipment.   Foreign investment
  Last November, a severe water contamination accident in northeast China’s Songhuajiang River cut off water supplies to downstream cities for several days, including Harbin, city of 9 million people in Heilongjiang Province. Enormously shocked, the provincial government of Heilongjiang signed an agreement with Beijing-based Tsinghua Tongfang Co. Ltd. and North American Environmental, Inc. from Canada in April, according to which, the two companies are to provide 5 billion yuan to several projects along the Songhuajiang for water pollution treatment and exploitation of water resources.
  Both Tongfang and North American Environmental are well-known companies engaged in environmental protection, supported by sophisticated technologies and abundant capital. With oversight by the local government, the two companies will work together on nearly 30 projects along the Songhuajiang, including water resources development and water recycling in coal-based cities. The involvement of enterprises in these projects has largely alleviated the government’s financial burdens, promoted the efficiency of project operation and cut project costs. All this will greatly promote the use of water resources and water pollution treatment in Heilongjiang, local officials said.
  Even before the contamination incident in the Songhuajiang, multinationals had already started to compete for China’s expanding water market. The world’s water industry leaders such as Veolia Water of France (VEOLIA EAU) and Thames Water of Britain all see China as an important part of their global strategy. In addition, Berlin Water, the largest water company in Germany, invested 300 million yuan in Nanchang, capital city of central China’s Jiangxi Province, and 800 million yuan in Tianjin for the construction of wastewater treatment facilities.
  Wang Guanjun is deputy director of the Development Research Center under the Ministry of Water Resources. In his opinion, as an industry with relatively stable income, China’s water industry is now quite attractive to foreign investors.
  Chen Changhua, head of China Research for Credit Suisse First Boston, agrees. He said there is much room for the current low water prices to rise. “In recent years, quite a lot of companies from both home and abroad have shown interest in China’s water supply industry,” said Chen, adding that despite the current small profit margins, most investors are looking at very promising long-term prospects.
  Estimated Value of China’s Sewage Treatment MarketUnit: 100 million yuan
  Source: CCID Consulting Company Ltd.
  A Thirsty Nation
  Since 1950, lake areas in China have shrunk by 15 percent, and marshes by more than 25 percent. Meanwhile, water consumption has increased 500 percent, with per-capita water consumption doubling.
  During 2000 and 2004, China’s gross water resources fell 13 percent while the per-capita amount dropped from 2,194 cubic meters to 1,856 cubic meters, down 15 percent.   By the end of the 1990s, water shortages had led to an annual loss of 200 billion yuan. Two thirds of China’s 600 major cities now suffer from water shortages; while 30 percent of them are in serious need. The total water shortage around the country is estimated to be 6 billion cubic meters.
  Statistics in 2005 show that China consumes more water than any other country, with its water consumption accounting for 15.4 percent of the world’s total, and it has the fifth largest water supply. Comparatively, China’s per-capita water supply falls far below the global average. It is predicted that by 2010, the gap between water supply and demand will hit 32 billion cubic meters, and 50 billion cubic meters in 2030, an amount 10 times the annual water consumption in Beijing.
  In 2004, two thirds of the gross water consumption was attributed to agriculture, while water for industrial and household uses accounted for 22 percent and 12 percent, respectively.
  While there exists a severe shortage of water resources, environmental deterioration has led to serious water pollution: Half of the country’s big lakes are badly polluted; only 38 percent of river water is drinkable; only 20 percent of the country’s population has access to pollution-free drinking water; and a quarter of the country’s population is faced with the problem of drinking polluted water. In this scenario, sewage and industrial wastewater are the major sources of pollution.
  Source: Ministry of Water Resources and State Environmental Protection Administration

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