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June 7, 2013

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Regulation of drinking water soon to get teeth

A DRAFT law puts more teeth into rules governing the city's tap water quality, drinking water machines and buildings' water tanks.

The regulation would set fines of 100,000 yuan (US$16,129) for water suppliers or polluters who fail to make timely reports of water pollution accidents or carry out emergency measures required by the health authority.

The draft will be discussed by Shanghai People's Congress late this month.

For the first time, those responsible for building water tanks and companies that run self-serve machines that charge for drinking water may be subject to punishment. Administrative rules presently allow health authorities to issue them only warnings.

The draft says the city's tap water operators, not real-estate companies, will be responsible for the approximately 140,000 water tanks installed on the top of buildings.

"Water tanks must be cleaned, disinfected and checked for water quality at least twice a year," said Zhou Yanqin, vice director of Shanghai Health Supervision Agency.

A representative of the residents or building owner should monitor the process and participate in the choice of tank cleaning companies, Zhou said.

Shanghai has 20 licensed companies running 4,908 self-serve drinking water machines, most of which are located in old residential complexes downtown and in the suburbs.

The draft says such machines must be put inside residential complexes. The machine operator must check the machines every day and publicize the results.

Health officials have improved the quality of such water, but the new regulation is expected to do even more.


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