U.S. Water News Online
BEIJING, China -- For an unprecedented reform of its water
pricing system, a public hearing was held in the capital on major
water price hikes, making residents and businesses brace for the
The majority of the 30 public delegates attending the water price
hearing gave consent to the proposals that the price of water be
raised by some 30 per cent on average.
Once endorsed, the charge on average will be lifted to $2.59 per
1000 gallons (M gal) from the current $2.00/M gal.
Debates are expected to be heating up as other municipalities and
provinces, nearly all suffering from water shortages, would follow
suit. As well, inflation remains a major concern.
The delegates, representing consumers, industrial circles and
government departments, urged pricing authorities to give special
consideration to low-income groups and provide them with subsidies in
case there is a price hike.
Many of the delegates also pointed out that the Beijing Tap Water
Group and related government organs should make more efforts to
restore dilapidated pipelines and prevent water leaking and waste in
At the hearing, which lasted about four and a half hours, the
city's water bureau, the tap water group and the drainage group put
forward three proposals respectively to ask for price hikes in terms
of water resource fees, tap water fees and sewage treatment fees.
According to the proposals, the general water price -- grouping
the three above different fees -- for residents, will increase to
$2.00/M gal. from current $1.46/M gal.
Meanwhile, a progressive water pricing system, which had been
discussed for a long time before the hearing was held, was proposed
to be carried out starting July 1 of this year.
Under the new system, residents will have to pay much more for use
of extra amounts of water.
Liu Suoxiang, deputy general manager of the tap water group, said
the progressive pricing system has three different tiers based on the
water consumption of a household monthly.
Liu said the new charging plan took a four-member family as the
model, and the basic level of water quota is 7200 gallons per person
So the basic quota of a household is 2,880 gal. a month, with the
price of $1.87/M gal., Liu said.
Families need to pay up to five times more for water exceeding the
The highest fee level targets luxurious water use such as for
family swimming pools, and its prohibitive price is expected to
encourage people to save water, Liu said.
He noted that families with four or less members take up over 90
per cent of the total households in Beijing, so the water quotas are
acceptable for the majority of households.
Most of the deputies at the hearing agreed to adopt such a
progressive water charging system, but some of them suggested that
its overall implementation around Beijing should be postponed.
Liu Zhiqi, one of the deputies and also secretary of the China
Water Association, said the local authorities can try the new system
in several communities first and then spread it to the whole city.
He pointed out that in many traditional courtyards, there is only
one water meter for three or more households.
The water group and related authorities should step up updating
the water meters to ensure the progressive charging system can be
carried out in a smooth way, said another deputy Zhang Ying.
Apart from the reform of water charges for residents, the overall
price will soar to $50/M gal. for bathing sector and $30/M gal. for
the car washing and purified waters industries, according to the
Beijing Development and Reform Bureau Deputy Director Chai
Xiaozhong said imposing prohibitive water prices on bathing and other
water-consuming businesses was aimed to use prices as policy leverage
to curb the development of these industries.
Chai said his bureau would make some changes on the proposals
based on the opinions and suggestions put forward by the deputies,
and then submit the revised version to the municipal government for
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