The world has never before seen a country do as big of a financial turnaround as we've been witnessing in China in recent years. Gone is the backward, non-industrial culture of the very rich and the very poor, and the middle-class is flourishing and more prosperous than they've been in the history of the country. The transformation is astounding, but in some cases, the prosperity outpacing technology, as in the case of clean, fresh water. A larger middle class and more spending power means that citizens are using water like never before, even though China's water resources are dwindling leaving the government to wonder how they're going to keep up with the need.
It appears that China isn't going to have to tackle the problem alone, because companies around the world are investing in the water treatment market. For example, in June the Dow Water and Process Solutions company announced that they would be building a high-tech reverse osmosis membrane plant in China. These efforts by big business will augment the Chinese pledge of $63 million to upgrade the water sector of the country. Other parts of China are already utilizing reverse osmosis water treatment with outstanding success, and the Dow plant will represent the first entity for producing the necessary membranes located outside of the United States.
China is fully committed to raising the water quality standards as well as sewage treatment methods. By the year 2015, they hope to raise sewage treatment rate to 85% in urban areas, 70% in county level cities and counties, and to 30% in towns. With the modernization that is taking place, people just aren't willing to live with less than sanitary conditions any longer. Foreign companies are now beginning to share in the waste water treatment efforts. They already control 95% of the household water purifier market.
Using membranes to treat waste water is an expensive process, so the practice is not widespread. Dow is now processing more than 100,000 tons of waste water every day mostly using biological treatment methods. No Chinese facility is able to process the water as effectively. However, China is willing to spend the money required to update their water systems to modern levels in order to offer superior service to its citizens. The biggest problem, though, lies in the fact that not all industry is living up to the water regulations the government has put in place, and 57% of the groundwater is polluted making clean-up a huge problem.
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