An amendment to China"s Water Pollution Prevention and Control Law - including a "river chief" system - was approved at the closing ceremony of the bimonthly session of the top legislative body on Tuesday. It will take effect on Jan 1.
As enacted, the law includes provisions for a river chief system, a new mechanism under which leading officials assume major responsibility for addressing water pollution. It is expected to cover the provincial, city, county and township levels.
"The new system has worked in some areas," said Tong Weidong, deputy director of the Legislative Affairs Commission"s Office for State Law under the top legislative body, in the closing news release on Tuesday.
While no punishments are listed in the amended law for failures, officials" annual job performance assessments and promotions will be tied to the way they discharge their duties, Tong said.
The amended law also strengthens controls on sewage and garbage treatment in rural regions. Central and local government are expected to build more facilities to process waste, and standards designed to protect water were introduced to govern the use of fertilizers.
The law also requires the creation of a pollution risk evaluation system for drinking water. The government will release information about drinking water quality regularly and report any problems, Tong said.
The amendment also raises the upper limit of fines for water pollution, with fines as high as 1 million yuan ($147,000), he added.
At a higher level, China"s Environmental Protection Law - a comprehensive statute that took effect on Jan 1, 2015 - also deals with some aspects of water pollution prevention. It gave authorities more powerful tools with which to punish violators.
In the first five months of this year, 13,478 violations of the law have been investigated, triple the same period last year, Ministry of Environmental Protection said on Monday.