Suzhou receives Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize
Last Updated: 2014-06-03 05:35 | Xinhua
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China's eastern city of Suzhou received the Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize at a ceremony on Monday for its sound planning principles and good urban management.

The Orange County Water District (OCWD), which manages a groundwater basin in Orange County, California, the United States, received the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize at the same ceremony for its pioneering work in groundwater management and water reclamation using advanced water reuse technologies.

Kishore Mahbubani, dean of the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy and chairman of the nominating committee for the prize, said that Suzhou has overcome difficulties through several stages of transformation to achieve remarkable economic prosperity, and preservation of its celebrated cultural and historic heritage concurrently, despite numerous challenges amid the rapid industrialization and urbanization processes in China.

Suzhou was selected from among 36 cities, he added.

"Suzhou's leaders took a holistic approach and sought to achieve the triple goals of economic and social progress as well as the preservation of its significant historical heritage," he said.

Suzhou mayor Zhou Naixiang received the prize at the ceremony, saying that his government will continue to draw on the experience of other cities.

"As a manager and service provider of the city, I am at once honored and humbled. We will continue to draw on the experience of other cities," he said.

Zhou said at a forum session in the afternoon that Suzhou had been successful due to its sound urban planning and the government leaders' respect for the masterplan. The city of Suzhou now comprises the ancient city of Suzhou, the Sino-Singapore Industrial Park and a high-tech development park that co-exist with each other.

Suzhou also did very well in communicating with the residents in planning and construction on infrastructural projects such as incineration plants, with online platforms to communicate with the mayor and hotlines to receive complaints, he said.

The biennial Lee Kuan Yew World City Prize is jointly organized by the Urban Redevelopment Authority and the Center for Liveable Cities to honor outstanding achievements and contributions to the creation of liveable, vibrant and sustainable urban communities around the world. It seeks to recognize and celebrate efforts in furthering urban solutions and sustainable urban development.

The award is the highlight of the World Cities Summit in Singapore.

The Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize, the highlight of the Singapore International Water Week, was launched in 2008 to honor outstanding contributions by individuals or organizations towards solving the world's water problems by applying innovative technologies or implementing policies and programs which benefit humanity.

The OCWD, the winner this year, piloted a water factory in the 1970s, which is believed to have been the first facility in the world to successfully produce potable-grade quality recycled water by treating used water effluent through an advanced water purification system relying on reverse osmosis and granular activated carbon. The reverse osmosis is similar to the technology Singapore currently uses to produce highly purified water from treated waste water.

Based on research and demonstration efforts by OCWD, a three- stage advanced treatment process of microfiltration, reverse osmosis and ultraviolet or hydrogen peroxide has been established as the standard for potable water reuse in the industry.

The agency launched a Groundwater Replenishment System (GWRS) in 2008 to replace the water factory. The reclaimed water is injected into a series of injection wells to create a hydraulic barrier that guards against seawater intrusion, preventing contamination of drinking water wells. It also provides a new source of high-quality water for year-round recharge to the aquifer.

Mahbubani said that the prize also recognizes the OCWD's achievements in public policy and community outreach.

At the agency, an independent advisory panel was also set up comprising experts in various related fields from around the world, providing public confidence that various aspects of the projects have been independently and scientifically scrutinized.

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