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Frontiers of Environmental Science & Engineering

ISSN 2095-2201

ISSN 2095-221X(Online)

CN 10-1013/X

Postal Subscription Code 80-973

2018 Impact Factor: 3.883

Front. Environ. Sci. Eng.    2019, Vol. 13 Issue (6) : 88
Municipal wastewater treatment in China: Development history and future perspectives
Jiuhui Qu1,10(), Hongchen Wang2,10, Kaijun Wang3,10, Gang Yu3,10, Bing Ke4,10, Han-Qing Yu5,10, Hongqiang Ren6,10, Xingcan Zheng7,10, Ji Li8,10, Wen-Wei Li5, Song Gao9, Hui Gong3
1. Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing 100085, China
2. School of Environment and Nature Resources, Renmin University of China, Beijing 100872, China
3. School of Environment, Tsinghua University, Beijing 100084, China
4. Administrative Centre for China’s Agenda 21, Ministry of Science and Technology, Beijing 100038, China
5. CAS Key Laboratory of Urban Pollutant Conversion, University of Science & Technology of China, Hefei 230026, China
6. School of the Environment, Nanjing University, Nanjing 212013, China
7. North China Municipal Engineering Design & Research Institute, Tianjin 300074, China
8. School of Environment and Civil Engineering, Jiangnan University, Wuxi 214122, China
9. Jiangsu (Yixing) Institute of Environmental Industry, Yixing 214200, China
10. Expert Committee for China’s Concept WWTPs, Beijing 100044, China
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The history of China’s municipal wastewater management is revisited.

The remaining challenges in wastewater sector in China are identified.

New concept municipal wastewater treatment plants are highlighted.

An integrated plant of energy, water and fertilizer recovery is envisaged.

China has the world’s largest and still growing wastewater sector and water market, thus its future development will have profound influence on the world. The high-speed development of China’s wastewater sector over the past 40 years has forged its global leading treatment capacity and innovation ability. However, many problems were left behind, including underdeveloped sewers and sludge disposal facilities, low sustainability of the treatment processes, questionable wastewater treatment plant (WWTP) effluent discharge standards, and lacking global thinking on harmonious development between wastewater management, human society and the nature. Addressing these challenges calls for fundamental changes in target design, policy and technologies. In this mini-review, we revisit the development history of China’s municipal wastewater management and identify the remaining challenges. Also, we highlight the future needs of sustainable development and exploring China’s own wastewater management path, and outlook the future from several aspects including targets of wastewater management, policies and technologies, especially the new concept WWTP. Furthermore, we envisage the establishment of new-generation WWTPs with the vision of turning WWTP from a site of pollutant removal into a plant of energy, water and fertilizer recovery and an integrated part urban ecology in China.

Keywords China      Wastewater treatment plant (WWTP)      Process      Management      Policy      New Concept WWTP     
Corresponding Authors: Jiuhui Qu   
Issue Date: 22 November 2019
 Cite this article:   
Jiuhui Qu,Hongchen Wang,Kaijun Wang, et al. Municipal wastewater treatment in China: Development history and future perspectives[J]. Front. Environ. Sci. Eng., 2019, 13(6): 88.
Fig.1  Growth of municipal WWTPs number in China during 2007–2017.
Year of operation Name of
Municipal WWTP
Treatment capacity (m3/d) Milestone
1984 Tianjin Jizhuangzi WWTP 260000 The first large-scale WWTP implementing activated sludge process in China
1993 Phase One of Beijing Gaopidian WWTP 500000 The first 500000-scale WWTP in China
1991 East Handan WWTP 100000 The first plant with three-groove oxidation ditch process (built by using the Danish government grant)
2000 Dalian Malan River WWTP 120000 The first plant applying BIOSTYR biological aerated filter
2001 Shanghai Taopu WWTP 60000 The first plant applying SBR process
2002 Shanghai Shidongkou WWTP 400000 The first Unitank Municipal WWTP
2008 Wuxi Lucun Village WWTP 200000 The first plant implementing Grade 1-A standard; the first plant adopting large-scale IFAS/MBBR system
2016 Beijing Water Reclaimation Plant 1000000 The largest reclaimed water plant in China
Tab.1  The milestone WWTPs in the development history of China’s municipal wastewater sector
Fig.2  Beijing Gaobeidian reclaimed water plant.
Fig.3  Publications in the water research field by several major countries in 2018.
Fig.4  Proportion of WWTPs implementing Class 1A effluent standards and the energy consumption intensity of WWTPs in China.
Fig.5  The geographic distribution of influent COD and NH3-N concentrations of WWTPs in China.
Fig.6  Disposal situation of wastewater sludge from China’s WWTPs in 2018.
Fig.7  The principles of Concept Plant to be established in China.
Fig.8  The first New Concept WWTP to be constructed in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province.
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