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China to Increase Wastewater Treatment Fees By 2016

26 January 2015, NDRC, Ministry of Finance and Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rual Development issued Notice on Issues of Setting and Adjustment of Wastewater Treatment Fee Standard.

1) The document adjusted the existing wastewater treatment fee standard and sets the following targets by the end of 2016:

  • Urban wastewater treatment (WWT) fees to be no less than CNY0.95/tonne for residential users and CNY1.40/tonne for non-residential users (such as industries); and
  • County/designated-town WWT fees to be no less than CNY0.85/tonne for residential users and CNY1.20/tonne for non-residential users.

If the local WWT fee meets the above new WWF fee standard, the Notice encourages the WWT fee to be increased to provide acceptable profitability for WWT operators.

For places where WWT fees are currently not being collected, the Notice also urges them to start fee collection by the end of 2015 and also make wastewater treatment plants put in operation within the following 3 years.

That means, all the cities, counties and designated-towns should fully implement the WWT fee by the end of 2015 and have WWT plants in operation in the following three years.

China to Up Wastewater Treatment Fees Nationwide By 2016

2) to strengthen collection of wastewater treatment fees through better monitoring such as real-time automatic metering at some key polluting factories in certain sectors.

3) To implement differentiated fee standards. The Notice encourages local governments:

  • to set an even higher wastewater treatment fee standard for wastewater discharge that violates relevant standards; and
  • to adopt a differentiated fee standards based on the actual situation (such as type of pollutants) of wastewater discharge

4) To encourage involvement of social capital through franchising, government procurement and joint venture.

The Notice also clearly states that the collected wastewater treatment fees will only be used for construction and operation of urban wastewater treatment facilities and handling of sludge. (Read more in “China Water Investments: 3 Thoughts”)

5) To ensure matching policies and measures to be in place. The following key actions will be taken:

  • To increase government investment through central budget and other financing channels;
  • To strengthen monitoring through Wastwater Discharge Permit system (Read more about the permit system here); and
  • To protect the interest of low-income people by increasing government subsidy standard.

6) To enhance information disclosure from local government and polluting factories and promote public education through various media.