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The Construction of Urban Sewage Treatment Facilities-Creation of 'Hunan Mode'

Writer: Time:2010-03-04
From: http://www.enghunan.gov.cn/

The 'Three-year Action Plan for Constructing Urban Sewage Treatment Facilities' was the environmental action proposed by Zhou Qiang when he was serving as the governor of Hunan province. According to the plan, from 2008 to 2010, the province shall strive to launch 119 new projects of sewage treatment, construct 5,500 km new pipe network, and gain an increase of 4.2 million cubic meters per day in its sewage treatment capacity, with an investment of approximately 14.9 billion yuan, in order to ensure a full coverage of sewage treatment facilities in towns above the county level across the province till the end of 2010 and achieve an emission reduction of 10% in its chemical oxygen demand during the 11th Five-Year Plan.

The sewage treatment in Hunan province was not up to the satisfactory levels when Zhou started comprehensively promoting the 'Three-year Action Plan for the Construction of Urban Sewage Treatment Facilities' in the first place. The end of 2007 witnessed that the discharge volume of urban domestic sewage in Hunan province reached 1.96 billion ton, exceeding that of industrial wastewater and accounting for 70% of the total waste water; there were only 21 urban sewage treatment plants concentrating in central cities such as Changsha and Zhuzhou while none in most county towns, with a provincial treatment capacity of mere 720 million ton and a treatment rate of only 36.7%. Such a situation had even led to a slight increase in the province's emission of chemical oxygen demand from 2005, which was inconsistent with the requirements of constructing a 'resource-saving and environmental friendly society' and contrasted with Zhou's vision of clean water across the province.

In view of this, a committee of the 'Three-year Action Plan for Constructing Urban Sewage Treatment Facilities', headed by Zhou himself, was set up by the Hunan Provincial People's Government to deploy and supervise major issues in the project construction. Under guidance and supervision of the committee, sound, coordinated, and orderly working mechanisms have been formulated in departments at all levels. Correspondent authorities, responsible for organizing, leading and implementing the relevant work, are also required to be set up in cities and prefectures, counties, towns and districts.

In July, 2008, Hunan Government convened an on-site meeting in Zhuzhou, an economically developed city with sound facilities of sewage treatment. Zhou attended the meeting and ensured that the appropriate measures were taken.

In April, 2009, Hunan Energy Conservation and Emission Reduction & Xiangjiang Basin Pollution Comprehensive Treatment On-site Meeting was held in Xiangtan. At the meeting, Zhou Qiang made a clear distinction between reward and penalty. For cities and prefectures which lag behind the schedule of constructing urban sewage treatment facilities, the Policy of Limited Approval on Regional New Projects was imposed and the governors were invited to have an interview with Zhou. In Chinese politics, getting an invitation for an interview with higher authorities is considered that the performance of the person is not up to the required standards. The interview is not intended to punish the person, however, it servers as a warning of a potential serious problems.

The investment of 14.9 billion yuan required by the 'Three-year Action Plan for Constructing Urban Sewage Treatment Facilities' is a tough task even for Zhou. As each county sewage treatment plan demands an investment of over 20 million yuan, local governments with bare revenues, especially of economically backward regions in western Hunan, find it hard to finance such a huge expenditure. To solve this problem, Zhou, by specially squeezing time out of his busy schedule of government affairs, conducted field researches in underdeveloped regions such as Huaihua and Jingzhou to help tackle their specific problems. Through his investigations and research, Zhou instructed relevant departments to formulate 15 supporting documents and issue a series of supportive measures for local governments concerning granting reward instead of subsidy, ensuring the use of land, focusing on key projects and projects examination and approval, and ensured that the system of supervision and assessment was strictly implemented, in a bid to keep the project construction on schedule.

The 'Champion of the Earth' award has brought a lot of conveniences to Hunan as leaders from central ministries and commissions, knowing that Zhou was a 'Green Governor', offered their help as generously as possible. Departments including the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Construction, and the Ministry of Environmental Protection have provided central capital subsidies of 3.304 billion yuan since 2008, and China Development Bank has granted a loan of 5.67 billion yuan to Hunan provincial government. Zhou also personally invited leading enterprises of the province to participate in the investment, construction and operation of the sewage treatment facilities in Hunan, and brought in an investment of 3.3 billion yuan through market-oriented operation.

Under the vibrant leadership of Zhou, Hunan has achieved the goal of building a comprehensive network of sewage treatment facilities in cities and towns at or areas above the county level in September, 2010, two months ahead of schedule. The year 2009 has witnessed the most notable achievements with newly built plants, newly-increased treatment capacities and additional pipe network length accounting for 13.9%, 14.7% and 18.8% of the total amount nation wide respectively, covering quite large proportions in China. High priority has been given to the supervision and management of urban sewage treatment plants in 2010. The online monitoring mechanism has been improved in every single sewage treatment plants to ensure the smooth operation of environment protection facilities. The implementation of the Three-Year Action Plan for constructing sewage treatment facilities in cities and towns since 2008 has made great contributions to the reduction of major pollutants and generated substantial environmental benefits. At present, the treatment rate of urban sewage in cities and towns across the province at or areas above the county level has reached 65.6%, up by 29% compared with the year of 2007. The chemical oxygen demand (COD) reduction in the urban sewage treatment plants ensured a yearly progressive increase, playing a crucial role in improving the environmental quality of the rivers in the province. According to the statistics of Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, the COD reduction in urban sewage treatment plants in 2008 and 2009 accounted for 26% and 45% of the province's total amount respectively, and it is expected to reach 63.5% this year.

The Three-Year Action Plan was highly appraised by relevant state ministries and commissions. Hunan's experience in sewage treatment was shared at the On-site Meeting on National Construction and Operation of Urban Sewage Treatment Facilities, where its achievements and practices were hailed as 'Hunan Mode'. The Ministry of Finance awarded Hunan's great efforts and substantial results with increased funding, allocating 9% of the total amount as award instead of providing subsidies to Hunan in 2010. In their special examinations, the supervision group of the State Council for energy conservation and emission reduction, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development and the National Audit Office all spoke highly of Hunan's achievements in the area