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Premier Wen Urges Good Work in Water Diversion Project

Work on the eastern and central canals of the south-north water diversion project will start in an all-round way this year, Premier Wen Jiabao said Thursday.


Efficient use of water and reducing water pollution in north China will be a major part of the huge water diversion project to bring much needed water to dry northern areas from the south, the premier said.


Relevant administrations are working on plans to protect the water from pollution along the diversion, Wen said at a meeting of the committee in charge of the project under the State Council.


The committee on Thursday approved in principle eight projects planned to start soon, including a canal from Shijiazhuang in Hebei Province to Tuancheng Lake in Beijing, the reinforcement of the dam of Danjiangkou Reservoir, a tunnel crossing the Yellow River, and construction of sewage treatment plants in cities along the eastern canal.


Wen stressed scientific decision-making in the design, construction and management of relevant facilities for the water diversion project.


By 2008, 295 water pollution control projects will have been built along the east canal, one of three south-to-north water diversion canals running about 1,300 km across the eastern, middle and western parts of the country.


But 65 projects to cut wastewater have already been completed while 66 are under construction and 164 have not started yet.


The State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) admitted that water pollution along the east canal was still worrisome. All seven spots monitored by SEPA were reported to be polluted in varying degrees.


Premier Wen said the project would benefit from the ongoing water pricing and water resources management reform. New rules to charge enterprises and residents for disposing of wastewater will also be adopted.


On the east canal alone, 24 billion yuan (US$2.9 billion) will be invested in reducing pollution and protecting the environment, one third of the budget for the canal.


The south-to-north water diversion project formally started on December 27 last year, and aims to divert 44.8 billion cubic meters of water from the Yangtze River to thirsty north China.


But the country will still encourage economic use of water in north China and carry out measures to reduce water consumption, Wen said.


Emergency water supply to Beijing, Tianjin and north China's Hebei Province will a priority of the project, he said.


(Xinhua News Agency August 15, 2003)


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