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* In a bid to develop desalination infrastructure, the City of Qingdao is offering preferential rates on municipal services, including electricity supply, to encourage enterprises to source their water from desalination.

The directive was announced on 24 December and also offers investors the opportunity to purchase discounted land.

* The City of Tianjin is due to build a 40,000m3/d capacity wastewater treatment plant to serve the Tanggu district. The planned facility will be constructed by Tianjin Salcon Dagu Wastewater Treatment – a joint venture of Singapore Salcon Group and Tianjin Dagu Chemical Industry and will supply Tianjin Dagu Chemical Industry with 18,000m3/d of coolant water. The estimated project cost is RMB137 million ($17 million).

* Hong Kong China Gas is to invest in the RMB4 billion ($496 million) Zhongxin Suzhou Industrial Park water project. The investment amounts to 50% of the project and will expand water production capacity from 200,000m3/d to 400,000m3/d. Zhongxin Suzhou Industrial Park was built in 1994 and governs three towns with a total population of 250,000; Hong Kong China Gas currently holds a 10% stake in Zhongxin Suzhou Industrial Park Development Co.

* Singapore Utilities International, the private sector arm of Singapore’s Public Utilities Board, have joined forces with Metito, in hope of developing their water supply business in the Middle East. Metito CEO Mutaz Ghandour, said that the link up would help the company take advantage of the “wave of privatisations of government utilities” in the region.

* The Shandong provincial government announced its wish to see all facilities transferred to the private sector by the end of 2006. The province may need up to RMB8 million ($1 billion) of investment in order bring its wastewater treatment up to standard. The latest company to take advantage of the opportunities in Shandong is Singapore based United Envirotech which has two wastewater treatment projects worth an estimated RMB200 million ($25 million) in Weihai city. The company also has the option to acquire a further two water treatments plants on a transfer-operate-transfer basis.