(Yicai Global) March 29 -- China's Ministry of Ecology and Environment is building an automatic monitoring network to check surface water quality nationwide, and will soon be collecting real-time data online to keep an eye on the progress local governments are making toward environmental goals.
The number of monitoring sites providing real-time data will increase to 2,050 this year and cover 31 provinces, municipalities and autonomous regions, Zhai Qing, vice minister of ecology and environment, told Yicai Global. The new system will allow technicians to obtain new data every four hours, rather than once a month.
The data will be used as evidence to assess local governments' work towards improving the environment, Zhai said. That covers pollution prevention, controlling discharge of major pollutions and ecological protection.
Once the network is up and running, the ministry will find a third-party agency to operate and maintain them, continuously checking key indicators in the environmental quality of surface water, Zhai said. By then, relevant departments at all levels of government will have access to the data. It's important to use a third party to ensure the authenticity, accuracy and objectivity of data, he added.
The China National Environment Monitoring Center already offers real-time surface water quality monitoring, but only offers information from a limited number of sites. All localities will have built monitoring stations in preparation for the data network by July, Zhai added.
The ministry will open up related markets and encourage social environmental monitoring agencies to become more involved in checking pollution sources and assessing ecological damage. It will also push local governments into buying such services, Zhai said.