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Forum on river chief system held


Middle school students learn about environmental protection at the Donghu air quality monitoring station Monday, the day before World Environment Day.

A FORUM focusing on exploring ways for volunteers to engage in managing rivers was held at the Youth Square in Futian District yesterday, World Environment Day.

Water treatment experts, and representatives from government departments, social organizations, research institutes and volunteers attended and shared their suggestions at the forum.

Volunteers in Shenzhen have enjoyed a national reputation for their efforts, and the city is now exploring more efficient ways for volunteers to be involved in work that protects and treats rivers in Shenzhen.

The forum was co-hosted by the Shenzhen Municipal Committee of the Communist Youth League of China, the China River Chief Think Tank Research Institute, the Shenzhen Municipal Water Affairs Bureau and Shenzhen's environment commission.

Wang Hao, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and director of the China Research Council for Sustainable Development, said that Shenzhen has applied the river chief system and achieved significant results with the help of volunteers. Shenzhen combines the regulation of rivers with the governance of the city and invested about 20 billion yuan (US$3.12 billion) to treat polluted water in 2017.

Wang also pointed out that the condition of the rivers, in terms of water volume and water quality, in Shenzhen is not ideal, so the application of the river chief system still needs more efforts from volunteers and related departments.

A Canadian expert, Asit Biswas, was also invited to give advice on the city's water affairs. Biswas was a winner of the Stockholm Water Prize in 2006 and is currently a guest professor at National University of Singapore.

According to Biswas' observations and research, Shenzhen is now facing three major water problems: limited water resources, extensive discharge of used water and flooding in rainy seasons.

"The first question I think Shenzhen should ask herself is how much water does one Shenzhen resident need on a daily basis, because I have not found any data on this yet," Biswas posed as a challenge at the beginning of his speech.

The average amount of water consumed every day by residents in the eight major Chinese cities is 135 liters, while many large cities in other countries use much less. For instance, the amount of water that allows residents to lead a healthy and productive life is 75 liters in Singapore, 102 liters in Denmark and 90 liters in the Czech Republic.

"Shenzhen needs to find out how much water is needed to ensure a healthy life for its residents, so as not to waste water resources," said the professor. "If the water to be consumed is saved, then the city will also have much less used water to treat afterwards."

Also, Biswas suggested that Shenzhen use modern technology to recycle used water or to purify polluted water. "Polluted water can be used as a resource as long as it is properly discharged and treated," said the professor.

The experts later joined a round-table discussion to probe the feasibility of and methods for involving the general public in promoting the water environment.

Before attending the forum in the afternoon, the experts and some volunteers visited a U-Station in Shahe in Nanshan District that safeguards the water environment in the region. The U-Station was established over a year ago.

Apart from government officials, many volunteers from all walks of life in Shenzhen have committed themselves to water treatment. The city now has 702 voluntary river chiefs and nearly 160,000 volunteers devoted to assisting with the work on the water environment.

The River Chief System was enacted nationwide as a mechanism for supervising efforts to treat polluted rivers, lakes and seas in China at the end of 2016.

Source:Shenzhen Daily

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