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Harbin Turns to New Water Supply After River Pollution
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A reservoir will begin to supply water by the end of this year to the northeastern city of Harbin, which had to suspend water supplies to millions of residents when the Songhua River was polluted last November, officials said Saturday.

It's estimated that the Mopanshan reservoir will supply 450,000 cubic meters of water daily to Harbin, capital of Heilongjiang Province, when the pipeline network is complete.

The reservoir, located in Wuchang city, is 200km away from Harbin in Heilongjiang Province. With a total investment of more than 5 billion yuan (about US$630 million), it began construction in April 2003 and was put into operation September 2005.

The Songhua River, which is currently Harbin's sole water supply, was polluted last November when approximately 100 tons of pollutants containing hazardous benzene spilled into it after a chemical plant explosion in Jilin Province.

The incident forced cities along the river, including Harbin, a city of more than three million people, to temporarily suspend water supplies to its residents.

China has approved a plan to invest 10 billion yuan (US$1.25 billion) in the next five years to curb pollution of the Songhua River.

The plan is aimed to prevent and control pollution in the drainage area of the river. While approving the plan, the executive meeting of the State Council, or the central government, chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao also ordered the launch of a batch of projects to tackle industrial sources of pollution and treat urban sewage.

(Xinhua News Agency April 4, 2006)

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