Professor calls for lowering the required standards for wastewater discharges

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The Standing Committee of the NPC held a conference on the implementation of Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law on the 25th of March, in which experts and specialists offered assessment and suggestions. During the conference Professor of Environmental Science and Engineering Peng Yongzhen, from the Beijing University of Technology, gave a talk from the height of his academic authority.

The professor said that China has made significant progress on tackling water pollution in the past few years; however, there is still a problem with the wastewater discharge standards. Regional governments have raised unreasonable requirements in recent years for wastewater discharge in urban areas, in order to meet the water quality standards IV and III. In fact, Standard IV is meant for industrial water and Standard III for domestic water, and neither is meant to set a standard for discharged wastewater. None of the wastewater treatment plants in China are able to meet those standards, not even ones in Beijing and Shanghai. Therefore, professor Peng called for returning to rationality and not following these standards blindly.

To improve the wastewater discharge standards in urban areas, Peng gave three suggestions. First of all, the standards should adapt to local conditions, as the environments, climate, and lifestyle vary in different regions of China. Secondly, the local standards for nitrogen and phosphorus emission should be more stringent for fragile water bodies such as lakes and bays. Last but not least, the standards for nitrogen and phosphorus emission can be lowered for water bodies free of the risk of eutrophication, as this can reduce costs for wastewater treatment plants.