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China Strives for Clean Waters with EPA

2012 January 31

By Sasha Koo-Oshima

All over the world, developing countries are faced with the challenge of trying to grow their economies despite finite water resources. The U.S. government, including EPA, is helping countries address some of their most pressing clean water needs while trying to develop international markets for U.S. businesses that specialize in environmental technology. Last December, I traveled to China as part of a U.S. delegation to help China develop a long-term plan to maximize the country’s water resources in the face of a growing population and the potential impacts of climate change.

Our delegation included representatives from 20 U.S. companies, which consulted with Chinese government officials on a host of issues like water and energy efficiency, wastewater treatment and water reuse technologies. The impressive turnout by these companies shows a genuine interest in the growing Chinese marketplace. I’m enthusiastic that the Chinese government, which has set aside about $5.5 billion over the next eight years to develop a series of ground water-related strategies, has shown such strong interest in a growing sector of the U.S. economy.

The U.S. is already a world leader in producing advanced water technologies. According to the Department of Commerce, the U.S. environmental technology industry in 2008 generated approximately $300 billion in revenues, $43.8 billion in exports, and supported almost 1.7 million jobs. The U.S. share of foreign environmental technology markets has continued to grow and given the U.S. environmental technology industry a positive trade surplus for the past decade, and our work with the Chinese government is helping further the National Export Initiative, an effort by the federal government to expand overseas markets for U.S. businesses.

Above all, the most productive part of our meetings with the Chinese government centered around the exchange of ideas. Human capacity and knowhow, as much as any device or piece of machinery, is what’s needed to achieve any goal. I’m particularly excited about a partnership that’s developing between communities near Liangzi Lake in China and Minnesota Lake here in the U.S., where the two “sister lakes” are identifying strategies to help one another address common issues.

Business is all about relationships, and the relationship EPA is developing with China is not only helping China address some of its most pressing environmental problems, it’s enabling U.S. companies to take advantage of the growing global demand for environmental technology. And it’s all in the name of providing clean water to communities and businesses.

About the author: Sasha Koo-Oshima is the Senior International Water Policy Advisor for the EPA’s Office of Water, and has worked on China’s water quality and water resources development for nearly a decade. Sasha formerly served as the principal officer on water quality for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Agency and in the Scientific Secretariat of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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6 Responses leave one →
  1. Yabing H. Nollet permalink
    January 31, 2012

    Thank you sharing your experience with us.

    I cannot forget only a few years ago, the river in my hometome was polluted by ammonium leaked from a chemical plant. Fish died. There was no clean drinking water availabe. People had to drink bottled water.

    I am working as an environmental scientist at metropolitan Council Environmental Services in Minnesota. As a Chinese American, I am interested in anything regarding to the clean water issue in China.

  2. kiyohisa tanada permalink
    February 1, 2012

    I think so that it is very splendid that “EPA” and “China” push forward purification of the water jointly.
    In “the Beijing suburbs”, illegal dumping becomes the social problem.
    “The contaminated water” influences the human body.
    I think that China and “a friendly relationship” should develop through “health”.

  3. Alexander permalink
    February 1, 2012

    I agree that U.S. is a world leader and a world example for developing countries. I was a witness of annigilation in Ukraine/Europe/ the hole lake of fresh water area 5 ha and depth 70 ft. It was in Crimea near Black Sea Novofedorovka Saki region. The authorities filled up it by debris. Fishes, reptiles lived here, birds of passage had relaxation. Today all this life is in the past. This lake is on maps of Crimea and in Google, but it isn’t in fact. The men have no guarantee that the rest lakes will not annigilated by local authorities. Fresh water is rare in Crimea. They’ll annigilate own fresh water and then will ask U.S. for it.

  4. Ernest Martinson permalink
    February 1, 2012

    Long term plans in developing countries might well build upon historical practices. Night soil or human waste, that was collected in China, could instead be utilized on site but only after the waste was oxidized through the technology known as composting. The resulting compost can be used as a fertilizer on the land watered by water not used to flush the compost raw material down the drain to pollute other land and water.

  5. Grace Sevilly permalink
    February 5, 2012

    With their growing population, that is a good move for china. They can’t hope to sustain their people if an issue such as clean water is a problem for them, but I do hope they do something about their issue with tibet too…not being political or something..

  6. Nicholas permalink
    April 16, 2012

    I agree with Ernest about not forgetting what history teaches us.

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