September 21, 2018 / 8:35 AM / 3 months ago

China to grant $88 mln each to cities to tackle water pollution

SHANGHAI, Sept 21 (Reuters) - China will provide a few cities with an additional funding of 600 million yuan ($87.73 million) each until 2020 to help them tackle chronic “black and stinking” pollution in rivers, the finance ministry said on Friday.

China uses the phrase “black and stinking” to describe water rendered unusable as a result of heavy pollution.

The country is in the middle of an expensive campaign to clean up its heavily polluted lakes and rivers as it tries not only to tackle a major health threat, but also make its scarce water supplies available for agriculture and manufacturing purposes.

Zhang Bo, director of the water department at China’s environment ministry, told reporters in July the total cost of treating the problem could amount to around 1 trillion yuan.

The first batch of around 20 pilot cities eligible for the additional funding will be chosen this year, and they will use the money to implement new engineering solutions and pollution-control measures, the finance ministry added.

They will also be encouraged to develop alternative financing models, including public-private partnerships, to drive private capital into water pollution treatment, the statement added.

According to official data, 70 percent of groundwater samples taken from around the country in the first half of 2018 were deemed fit for human usage, up from 67.9 percent in the previous year.

About 6.9 percent of the monitoring stations across China found that samples from polluted rivers “lost all functionality”, down from 8.3 percent a year ago, the data cited.

China aims to trim the figure to 5 percent by 2020.

The environment ministry also named 39 cities in August after they failed to meet the water quality standards in the first half of the year.

$1 = 6.8390 yuan Reporting by David Stanway, Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips

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