The Asian Development Bank (ADB) is trying to step up the construction of a partly-funded reservoir for providing clean water to Harbin in the wake of a toxic spill that pollutes the local residents' major source of water supply, the bank said Wednesday.
Sangay Penjor, an ADB principal financial specialist, said the new reservoir partly funded by the bank is expected to provide clean water to Harbin late next year, or 18 months ahead of schedule.
Millions of people in the city of Harbin, northeast China, struggle to recover from the recent toxic spill from an upstream petrochemical company in the Songhua River.
In 2003, the ADB approved a US$100 million loan to help build a 42 meter high 356 million cubic meter reservoir at Mopanshan, on the upper reaches of the Lalin River, about 175 km from Harbin.
The project, estimated to cost a total of US$400 million, involves the construction of a tunnel, river outlet works and a water pipeline to Harbin, and a new water treatment plant as well as the rehabilitation of the distribution system.
The water treatment plant will be able to supply Harbin with 450,000 cubic meters per day.
The distribution system will be separated to allow the reservoir water to supply residential areas, while the Songhua River continues to be used for industrial purposes.
Penjor said clean water will start to flow from the reservoir in the latter part of 2006, a year and a half ahead of the original schedule of December 2007.
By 2010, with the completion of the second phase of the Harbin project, Harbin would have enough water to replace the Songhua River as drinking water source completely.
"The clean drinking water from this source will improve the health and well being of the people of Harbin," he said.
The ADB also went upstream to directly tackle the pollution source in Jilin Province, where blasts of the petrochemical plant caused water pollution in the Songhua River.
"The project will help Changchun, capital of Jilin, to achieve the goal of 70 percent wastewater treatment rate by 2010. "This project is ADB's first major intervention in directly addressing pollution control in the Songhua River basin," said Penjor. The Songhua River basin is the third largest river basin in China, catering to a population of about 62 million.
(Xinhua News Agency December 7, 2005)