Suzhou Creek is no longer an embarrassing, stinky brown canal twisting through Shanghai, thanks to the first phase of a 12-year plan to clean up the waterway.
Mayor Chen Liangyu pushed a button to start the newly built Shidongkou Sewage Treatment Plant yesterday morning, as part of a ceremony to mark the successful completion of the first phase of the battle against pollution in Suzhou Creek.
The new sewage plant, which can treat 400,000 cubic meters of sewage every day, including waste collected from factories and residential buildings along the creek, is the largest of its kind in Asia.
The clean-up project, which began in 1998, has almost completely removed the stench and filth from the creek and improved landscaping along its banks. The city plans to continue working to clean up the creak through 2010.
"It has been the wish of every local resident to clean up Suzhou Creek," Executive Vice-Mayor Han Zheng said during the ceremony. "When President Jiang Zemin and Premier Zhu Rongji worked in the city (in the late 1980s), they paid very close attention to the treatment of Suzhou Creek."
Pollution in Suzhou Creek can be traced to the early 1900s, and the waterway was considered severely polluted by the late 1970s.
The first phase of the clean-up project, which cost 6.89 billion yuan (US$830 million), involved 10 specific projects, including:
Underground pipelines totaling 209.7 kilometers were built, connecting factories along the creek to sewage treatment plants.
A total of 17 sewage plants were built, with a collective capacity of treating 320,000 tons of sewage every day.
The Wusong floodgate bridge was renovated to allow creek water to flow through every day.
A special boat was built to pump oxygen into the water in an attempt to help new plant life grow.
A total of 15 sanitation sites and auxiliary facilities were relocated from the riverside to make way for new landscaping along the creek.
Nineteen barge ports were relocated and 144 deserted ports were dismantled.
The city now plans to turn a 13.3-kilometer stretch along the creek into residential, entertainment and sight-seeing areas.
Han Chengjing, 72, who has lived along the creek around Xinchang Road for most of his life, said yesterday, "I am very touched by the tremendous changes to the creek that I witnessed during different periods of my life.
"When I was a kid, I swam in the creek in summer. But it soon became impossible as the creek became more and more polluted," the old man said. "Now, the creek has changed a lot in terms of its smell and color. And I enjoy living around here."
(eastday.com January 9, 2003)