BEIJING, Jan. 6 (Xinhuanet) -- The importance of water conservation can never be overestimated for China, whose water resources per capita are about one-fourth the world average.
Little wonder that the National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development released guidelines last week for charging residents in all cities tiered prices for water use by 2015.
With two-thirds of China's cities suffering from an insufficient supply of water and one-fourth suffering a serious water shortage, increasing residents' awareness of the need to save water is long overdue.
The acceleration of the country's urbanization will likely bring 300 million rural residents into cities in the next 20 years. This will considerably increase the amount of water used in cities.
The shortage of water is increasingly becoming a constraint on the country's economic development and social progress.
According to the guidelines the first-tier price will cover 80 percent of residents, a further 15 percent will pay the second-tier price, while the 5 percent of urban residents that use the most water will be charged the third-tier price, which is three times the first-tier price.
But will the charges really encourage residents to reduce their water consumption by a large margin? That remains to be seen.
If prices remain the same for 80 percent of residents, it is doubtful whether the tiered pricing will have any significant impact on people's profligate water use.
Yet, the guideline is still necessary given the fact that the differentiated charges will serve as a reminder to residents they will have to pay more if they use more.
However, it will by no means change the fact that the scarcity of water is becoming increasingly serious and poses a grave threat to the country's urban development in the foreseeable future.
The water price plan is just one of the ways to encourage a more rational use of this precious resource and there is much that remains to be done by the government to save water and protect water resources.
Development and promotion of water saving devices, planting trees in cities, collecting rainwater, keeping enough green space for rainwater to sink underground, and so on, hold great potential for water saving.
It is obvious that more importance needs to be attached to this issue which is vital for the nation's future development.
(Source: China Daily)