Guangzhou cleans up 121 waterways

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The capital of Guangdong province has nearly completed renovating 121 waterways since the project, aimed at preventing floods and improving the quality of water, kicked off at the end of 2008, local authorities said on Thursday.

Guangzhou cleans up 121 waterways

"More than 95 percent of the renovation work has already been completed," Liang Guosheng, an official with the Guangzhou Water Invest Group, told reporters at a press conference.

Guangzhou has 231 waterways, which are connected with the city's drainage system, and the local government started to clean up and renovate 121 of them to improve the environment and facilitate water flow, especially during the flood season.

Liang said the construction has been carried out in such an intensive way that the work is nearly complete within a year and a half. He added that such projects usually take five years.

Thanks to the project, many local residents have escaped floods during this year's rainstorms.

Xu Qiming, a 47-year-old resident in Liwan district, said there had been no floods in the Shamian region of the district this year.

"This year, I haven't had to pick up my 10-year-old son from the Shamian Primary School when it rained," said Xu. "There was no flooding at all on the streets. Last year, the rain submerged the road."

However, authorities said this round of renovation did not include some 50 other waterways in the city that are in urgent need of a cleanup.

"We can't solve all the problems in one go," Ouyang Ming, deputy director of Guangzhou Water Authority, said.

"The action needs an overall compound plan," said Liu Shukun, an expert on urban waterways research at the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research (IWHR) in Beijing.

"Because of the illegal buildings occupying the banks, the waterways can't drain the waste properly. It impacts the whole drainage process," he said.

"Water pollution and bridge piers worsen the draining capacity of the urban waterways," said Cheng Xiaotao, a professor and researcher in water hazards with IWHR. "Guangzhou began to face the complex issue in the mid-1990s."

The renovation project is said to be part of the city's effort to accelerate its drainage capacity as well as improve water quality.

"We are making efforts to ensure that waters in the main rivers of Guangzhou are not smelly nor black after the renovation," said Ouyang Ming.

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