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123 Billion Yuan to Harness Polluted Rivers and Lakes
China has planned to embark a big fund of 123.4 billion yuan (US$14.9 billion) during the 10th Fiver-Year Plan period (2001-2005) for 1,590 water pollution control programs in Huaihe, Haihe and Liaohe rivers and Taihu, Chaohu and Dianchi lakes, which are abbreviated to "three rivers" and "three lakes."

According the annual report on China's environment of 2002 issued by the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA) on June 5, Haihe River is the most polluted river of China's seven major rivers. More than 75 percent of the sections of the river had Grade V or worse than Grade V water quality. The Liaohe and Huaihe river systems have also been polluted severely, with water meeting Grade V, or worse than Grade V water quality standard, accounting for 68 percent in Liaohe and 60 percent in Huaihe.

Nitrogen and phosphorus pollution and eutrophication in the Taihu, Chaohu and Dianchi lakes are serious. In Taihu Lake, 60 percent of water had a water quality of Grade V or worse than Grade V; in Chaohu Lake, half part of water met the water quality standard of Grade V and another half worse than Grade V; Waihai section of Dianchi Lake had water quality of Grade V and Caohai section worse than Grade V.

The water pollution control plan for the "three rivers" and "three lakes" has been approved by the State Council to be implemented. The plan was made out by SEPA, the State Development and Reform Commission and related provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities. It mainly includes urban sewage treatment projects, sewage cutting and training works, agricultural pollution prevention, river drainage comprehensive harnessing, water diversion projects and so on.

Local governments are responsible for the funds and the central government will give some support.

According to the targets set in the plan, by 2005, water quality in the mainstream of Huaihe River is going to be improved noticeably, on the premise that mainstream and major tributaries of Huaihe won't run dry, and water quality of the eastern part of the south-to-north water diversion project to reach the required standard; water quality of mainstream and major tributaries in the Haihe River is going to be improved noticeably, where water quality of the control section in drinking water sources is to reach the standard for drinkable water; water quality of the whole drainage of Liaohe River is going to be further improved, and water quality of centralized surface drinking water sources to reach the required standard; water quality of the Taihu Lake, Wuli Lake and Meiliang Lake (the latter two are sections of Taihu) is going to be improved noticeably; water quality of the Chaohu Lake is going to be improved, and water quality in major river courses in Chaohu to approach or meet the Grade III surface water quality standard; water pollution in Dianchi River is going to be basically under control.

To guarantee the plan to be carried out smoothly, the State Environmental Protection Administration requires the concerned provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities to adjust the industrial structure actively, promote clean production, effectively control the total pollutant discharge into rivers and lakes, set up a check-up system for fulfillment of targets and quotas related to total pollutant discharge and environmental quality, as well as establish sewage and garbage disposal charge mechanism, gradually raising the charge for sewage and garbage disposal and attracting social investment into sewage treatment plants.

(China.org.cn by Zhang Tingting, June 17, 2003)

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