U.S. Water News Online
MANILA, Philippines -- Asia is faced with a huge bill to
clean up its polluted rivers and groundwater because it has not
invested enough in infrastructure for disposing pollutants, the Asian
Development Bank said.
In Shanghai, for example, Chinese authorities had to spend $1
billion to clean the Suzhou Creek, which runs through the metropolis
and was once a health risk to residents.
Chinese officials acknowledged the cleanup costs were many times
higher than the cost of preventing the pollution, the bank said.
"Failure to act on sanitation and wastewater eventually comes home
to roost when the problem results in a smelly, foul, turgid river
that despoils a city and surrounding areas," said Amy Leung, the
ADB's urban development specialist.
"But the real horror is the outbreak of typhoid and cholera caused
by inadequate sanitation," she said in a statement.
About 2 billion Asians -- roughly 66 percent of the region's total
population -- lack access to adequate sanitation, such as toilets,
pit latrines, septic tanks, and sewage systems, the bank said. They
account for nearly three-quarters of people worldwide without such
Adverse health effects not only hit the poor the hardest, but
damage entire economies with increased strain on health systems,
decline in tourism income, and loss of productivity, the Manila-based
lending institution said.
India, for example, is estimated to lose more than $230 million
each year in tourism revenue because of perceptions of poor
China last year announced plans to invest $125 billion in
sanitation and wastewater treatment, a major step forward but still
inadequate for its needs, the ADB said.
China's investment indicates the magnitude of funds needed in Asia
for sanitation and wastewater infrastructure until 2015.
The bank said it has about $1.6 billion in the pipeline for
investment in sanitation between now and 2010 and is looking for ways
to double or triple that figure.
It also has dedicated an extra $20 million in grants to help
governments and utilities improve their sanitation programs.
ADB experts were set to discuss the challenges at the World Water
Week, an upcoming global conference on sanitation and other water
issues in Stockholm.
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