BEIJING, Sept. 17 (Xinhua) -- China's environmental watchdog will raise standards for projects that may pollute water in a bid to improve the ecological system of rivers and lakes, according to an environmental official.
"The country will ensure the rehabilitation of rivers and lakes as water pollution remains serious," said Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), at a forum on the prevention and control of water pollution.
In the next ten years, all proposed projects involving heavy metal or organic pollutants discharges into rivers and lakes in rehabilitation would be rejected, said Zhou.
Projects that may discharge nitrous or phosphorous substances into closed or semi-closed water bodies would also be banned.
Industries with serious pollution and energy consumption, including paper-making and alcohol, would be severely limited and unqualified manufacturing devices would be eliminated, said Zhou.
The SEPA called on companies and local governments to set up reasonable and strict monitoring systems for pollutant discharges and to upgrade equipment for sewage treatment in cities and towns.
"Serious water pollution has been an obstacle to the healthy development of society," said Zhou. "We should be more determined and devoted to the rehabilitation of rivers and lakes."
According to a recent draft amendment to the Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law, those who discharge pollutants to drinking water sources will be fined 100,000 yuan (13,000 U.S. dollars) to 500,000 yuan.
Statistics from the SEPA show 21,340 chemical plants were located around rivers and lakes and in the first half of this year the amount of chemical oxygen demand rose by 0.24 percent year-on-year.
Zhou said 300 million rural Chinese had no access to safe drinking water.