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Beijing Invests in Water Projects Ahead of Olympics
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An investment of 12.46 billion yuan (US$1.59 billion) is to be made by the Chinese capital of Beijing between 2006 and 2010 to control worsening water pollution, according to a plan issued on Wednesday. The proposal is designed to ensure a cleaner water supply for the city of 16 million ahead of the 2008 Olympic Games.

The proposal, issued by Beijing's environment watchdog and the city's planning agency, details proposals for 35 new waste water treatment plants before 2008. By then 90 percent of waste water in urban Beijing and 50 percent in the suburbs will be treated before it flows into rivers and lakes, according to the plan. The city will shut off more than 1,000 sewer pipes along 30 of its rivers by 2008.

The same year Beijing will be able to treat all sewage and garbage from 41 villages in an area of 362 square kilometers near the Miyun, Huairou, and Guanting reservoirs. These are the city's major drinking water sources.

The plan also details the city tackling soil erosion over 3,560 square kilometers near, or upstream, from the Miyun and Guanting reservoirs by 2010.

The environmental protection bureau says untreated waste water, industrial effluent and agricultural pollution are responsible for the deteriorating water quality of rivers, reservoirs and lakes.

The bureau said earlier this week that pollution of Beijing's water supply was getting worse and water from the Guanting reservoir, the city's fourth largest drinking water source, wasn't fit for human consumption or even irrigation.

At level five on the pollution index water is only suitable for irrigation. Water from the Guanting reservoir is below this and therefore not fit for agricultural use.

With 21 reservoirs Beijing faced serious water supply problems as the Zhaitang, Taoyukou, Niantan and Daning reservoirs had all dried up, said the bureau in its first monthly report on water quality.

Miyun, Huairou and Yanqinggucheng reservoirs, the capital's other major drinking water sources, are still providing clean and potable water, said the report which is posted on the bureau's website.

Water quality levels between one and three are considered potable.

The report also said nearly half of Beijing's scenic lakes and ponds were polluted and their water was unfit to irrigate the park landscape around them.

It added that water quality in seven Beijing lakes like the Winter Palace and Taoranting Lakes was below level five. Only four lakes could be used to supply drinking water while water from the others was only fit for industrial use.

(Xinhua News Agency November 30, 2006)

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