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GE survey shows strong interest in water reuse among Chinese citizens

Hydrocarbon Engineering,

General Electric (GE) has recently announced the results of its consumer water reuse survey, conducted with the intent of examining consumer attitudes in three countries: China, Singapore and the US. The findings indicate that Chinese residents are the most supportive of water reuse, in comparison with their counterparts in Singapore and the US. Chinese citizens also demonstrate the highest knowledge about water infrastructure issues.

President and CEO of water and process technologies for GE Power & Water, Heiner Markhoff, has explained that population growth, rapid industrialisation and accelerated urbanisation are driving the need for water reuse. He has also described how the survey findings were unexpected; much stronger support for water recycling than had been anticipated was revealed.

Nine out of ten Chinese residents were shown to demonstrate concerns in regards to water quality and availability of clean water for future generations. Similarly, approximately 90% of Chinese survey participants show a favourable attitude toward entities that take initiatives and responsibility to protect water resources or use recycled water, despite the fact that large industries, agriculture, corporations, utilities and power companies were seen as most responsible for contributing to the region’s water scarcity. While the same trend was observed in those responding to the survey in Singapore, Americans did not show as strong a favourable view.

Chinese residents expect the national government to take the lead to resolved water scarcity issues; the majority of Chinese people agree that protection of water resources (95%) and water scarcity (87%) are national issues. In contrast, only 61% and 45% respectively saw these problems as local concerns.

Marketing director for greater China water and process technologies for GE Power & Water, Liping Lin, has spoken out about water related issues in the country; China’s per capita water resources represent only one quarter of the world average. Rapid industrialisation and urbanisation look set to increase water challenges. The Chinese government is seeking to undertake multiple, proactive measures in order to promote the conservation of water, water recycling and the reduction of pollution in order to build a sustainable, water sustaining society and undermine the potential detrimental effects of water shortage. 

China ranks the highest, as compared to Singapore and the US, in understanding the connection between water and energy; 93% of those surveyed understand that water delivery is dependent on energy and that water is needed to generate energy. Similarly, Chinese residents were shown by the survey to believe that smart water management can help to more efficiently create and use energy, which will have a positive impact on its cost.

Summary of survey findings

Attitude and usage towards water resources protection:

  • Chinese survey participants showed the most positive attitude toward the
  • concept of water reuse and are more knowledgeable towards water infrastructure than Singaporeans and Americans.
  • Water resource protection and availability of clean water resources for future generations are two key concerns of the majority of Chinese people (93%).
  • Chinese residents favour the use of recycled water for various activities that consume significant amounts of non-potable water such as residential and commercial landscaping, toilet flushing, car washing, power generation, industrial processing and manufacturing and agricultural irrigation. No country is in favour of using recycled water for drinking purposes.
  • 74% of Chinese participants would immediately pay more on their current water bill to ensure that future generations would be less vulnerable to water shortages.
  • All three countries, especially China (88%), believe that the water scarcity issue can be combated via the utilisation of recycled water.

National government and industries:

  • 94% and 87% of Chinese survey participants believe that the protection of water resources and water scarcity issues are the responsibility of the national government instead of local communities.
  • Although largest industries and corporations are seen as the largest contributor to the water scarcity issue, Chinese people feel that it is important that all entities take responsibility to protect water resource or use recycled water.
  • Chinese residents show particularly strong favourable attitudes towards entities that protect or reuse water resources.
  • Up to 83% would prefer to purchase a product or services from companies that use recycled water.

Water and energy:

  • 93% of Chinese survey participants understand that energy is needed to deliver water and that water also is required to generate energy.
  • Chinese people also rank the highest (92%) in believing that smart water management is able to bring positive impact to the future cost of energy.

In October 2012, GE issued the results of a consumer survey indicating that Americans strongly support reusing water to help the US drive economic competitiveness and protect the environment.

The debate surrounding water scarcity has been ongoing for some time. More information in regards to this issue is relayed in the Hydrocarbon Engineering January issue comment, which can be found at

Interesting articles on this topic can also be accessed via the following link:

Adapted from press release by Emma McAleavey.

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