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Guangzhou Vows to Clean up River
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The environmental protection authority in this southern city of Guangzhou has pledged to further its efforts to clean up the

Pearl River in the years ahead, to ensure residents can swim in it "all-year- round".


"Swimming in the river was once a big sporting event for citizens. But the river is now seriously polluted due to rapid urbanization and industrial development, said Ding Hong, director of the Guangzhou environmental protection bureau.


Last year, about 3,500 people were allowed to swim in the river for the first time in 30 years. The river stretches across the urban area of Guangzhou, capital city of South China's Guangdong Province.


"The event last year was a signal of the steady improvement of the river's water quality. But our final goal is to realize by 2010 excellent swimming conditions all-year- round," Ding said.


Last year, the local government invested more than 11 billion yuan (US$1.4 billion) on cleaning up the river. Most drainage areas are graded at 4, according to sources with Ding's department.


The national water quality grading system is based on a clean 1 to a dirty 5. Water for swimming must meet grade 3.


"We will earmark about 2 billion yuan every year till 2010 for the cleansing of all small rivers in urban areas that connect the Pearl River, to ensure a clean water source," Ding said.


There are currently more than 200 small rivers in Guangzhou's urban areas, most of which are used for residential sewage.


"We have found that more than 80 percent of pollutants in the Pearl River have been from these small rivers. So major efforts will be given to stop the dumping of sewage," Ding said.


He said industrial corporations situated along the Pearl River will also be required to meet environmental protection standards, or be forced to be move out of the area.


Ding said a total of 147 factories in recent years that were high energy-consumers have been renovated or moved out of the area.


The Guangzhou Daily reported that another swimming event in the river will be held this year, but an official with the Guangzhou sports administration department said yesterday plans had not been finalized.


"The swimming, together with a climbing event on Baiyun Mountain, has been written into our annual work plan. But right now we are still waiting for approval by the municipal government," Chen Jianzhu, a media official with the Guangzhou sports bureau, told China Daily.


"Swimming is good for us all. But the most important thing now is to enhance efforts to clean up the river," Chen said.


(China Daily May 17, 2007)

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