China students pay for 'excessive' toilet flushing

A file photo of a worker cleaning a squat toilet in China Image copyright EPA
Image caption Most Chinese colleges have squat toilets which already use less water than Western-style loos

A college in China is trying to stop excessive toilet flushing by giving students electronic passes to access the facilities on campus.

Each student at Kunming Health Vocational College in Yunnan province is assigned 3,000 litres (650 gallons) of water per month on a preloaded card which must be swiped to use the toilets, Chuncheng Evening News reports. If they get flush-happy and go over that quota then they'll have to pay extra, although the amount isn't specified.

Yunnan has endured repeated droughts in recent years. In 2013, China Daily reported that changing rainfall patterns were causing the problem, and that climatologists say it could get worse over the next 20 years.

One teacher at the college tells Yunnan Online that the ration should be "more than enough" for everyday use, and that the new system will encourage students to conserve water.

But the site says it has "caused widespread concern", something echoed among thousands of comments on Chinese microblogging site Weibo. Some users are shocked by the idea or think it's a waste of money, although others feel it's reasonable considering the water shortages. Several are worried about the potentially smelly consequences of the quota. "Won't this encourage students not to flush the toilet?" asks one person, while others wonder what the university would do should that unpleasant scenario unfold.

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