China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Polluted water puts 2.5m residents at risk

By Qiu Quanlin (China Daily)

Updated: 2007-04-03 07:05

GUANGZHOU: More than 2.5 million people are at risk from contaminated drinking water caused by heavy pollution at five water plants in this southern Chinese city, a recent study has claimed.

Guangzhou has eight water plants, but supplies at the Jiangcun, Shimen, Xicun, Shixi and Baihedong facilities have been contaminated by heavy metals, chemicals and other industrial pollutants, the study said.

Conducted by the population, resource and environment commission of the Guangdong Political People's Consultative Conference (GPPCC), the study has been passed to the province's top advisory body for consideration.

The five plants have a combined drinking water output of 2.53 million cubic tons, and supply about 2.67 million people throughout Guangzhou's Liwan and Yuexiu districts and parts of Baiyun and Haizhu.

The plants are fed from the Liuxi River and western section of the Pearl River route.

"These rivers have been heavily polluted by industrial pollutants and sewage from large corporations over the past decade," Xie Yeming, an official with the GPPCC, said.

Xie, together with other deputies at the GPPCC, have called for the development of alternative sources for the polluted plants. "New water sources must be introduced because the water quality in these plants is still low, even after treatment," Xie said in an interview yesterday with China Daily.

According to him, the city's water resources authority has made considerable efforts to clean up the sources. But the water quality in the rivers does not even reach the minimum standard for human consumption.

"It contains high levels of ammonia, fluoride, faecal coliform bacteria and heavy metals. That means we have a lot of work to do to make it fit for industrial use and consumption by local people," Xie said.

He said that the Xijiang and Beijiang rivers - both of which are tributaries of the Pearl River - could provide alternative sources for the plants, as they already feed the city's three plants whose water supplies are safe. "Projects to divert water from the Xijiang and Beijing rivers to these polluted plants should be started as soon as possible, to ensure we have sufficient supplies of safe drinking water," Xie said.

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