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Imbalanced Development and Economic Burden for Urban and Rural Wastewater Treatment in China—Discharge Limit Legislation

Meishu Wang () and Hui Gong ()
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Meishu Wang: School of Law, East China Normal University, Shanghai 200062, China
Hui Gong: State Key Joint Laboratory of Environment Simulation and Pollution Control, School of Environment, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China

Sustainability, 2018, vol. 10, issue 8, 1-12

Abstract: Water pollution control is a great challenge for China. Compared with urban regions, the wastewater treatment in rural areas is much undeveloped, which is highly related with the much delayed legislation for rural wastewater. Imbalanced urban-rural development and the economic burden of urban and rural wastewater treatment in China was investigated from the perspective of discharge limit legislation. For now, the national discharge limit for rural wastewater is still vacant, although the national discharge limit for urban wastewater had been released for more than ten years. Recently, local rural wastewater discharge limits from several provinces were released, however, based on quite different principles. Some categories emphasized environmental sensitivity with the discharge limit equal and were more strict than urban standards, while some focused on resource recovery for rural regions with loose discharge limits. This study compared the financial burden between rural and urban regions in 31 provinces under different discharge limit legislation conditions. It was revealed that the resources recovery category discharge principle helped to decrease the financial burden imbalance with a reduced Gini coefficient from 0.37 to 0.17. The reduced economic burden from the implementation of a suitably designed rural discharge limit promoted balancing the rural-urban gap and lowering uncertainties and risk of sustainable rural wastewater treatment. This study also revealed the urgency of rural water legislation and proposed development with a balanced financial burden for urban and rural residents under suitable discharge limits, providing a profound insight for environmental management with a focus on balanced urban-rural development for the policy-makers in developing countries.

Keywords: discharge limits for rural and urban areas in China; economic burden; Gini coefficient (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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