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Water Quality Remains Unchanged as Three Gorges Reservoir Fills
The quality of water in the Yangtze River will remain unchanged when the Three Gorges Water Control Project begins to store water on June 1, a noted Chinese environmentalist said.

This conclusion of Zhang Shaozhi, director of the Chongqing Municipal Bureau of Environmental Protection, was based on the great number of projects for environmental protection and riverbed clean-up.

Sanitation workers have cleared up 1.99 million tons of garbage, 1.98 million tons of industrial wastes and 15,000 tons of dangerous residue trash from the reservoir riverbed and have disinfected toilets on 5 million square meters. The clean-up project has won the approval of the state technical assessment.

China would invest a total of approximately 40 billion yuan (US$4.8 billion) for a decade from 2001 to 2010 to build phase by phase 150 sewage disposal works and 170 urban garbage disposal plants, which are expected to process over 85 percent of the sewage liquids and garbage in the region, said Zhang.

In the first phase, the city built 19 sewage works and 13 garbage disposal plants, most of which will go into operation before the water level of the reservoir climbs to 135 meters by June 15.

In addition, about 1,000 seriously-polluted enterprises in the dam area have been shut down. Barren and denuded hilly lands around the reservoir have been covered with green trees and grass.

Zhang predicted that the water quality at the gorges will remain the state standard of grade three.

However, Pan Jiazheng, one of the chief designers of the Three Gorges, urged that close attention be paid to environmental protection from the very beginning.

The Three Gorges reservoir faces a grave challenge because the self-purification will somewhat be weakened with the slower moving of water after the reservoir begins to fill, Pan said.

(Xinhua News Agency May 30, 2003)

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