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Officials demand improved Yangtze water quality

8 September 2010
Concern over the poor environmental condition of the Yangtze River and the Three Gorges reservoir area was raised by officials at a recent press conference organised by the State Council Information Office, reported China Daily.

“The ecological state [of the river] is still far from what the people are demanding,” said Jia Zhibang, director of the State Forestry Administration. “For numerous reasons, the forests on both sides of the river have been seriously degraded, as is reflected in barren mountains and hills that have led to repeated natural disasters.”

An increase in forest coverage along the 600km-long water area behind the Three Gorges Dam to 65 per cent from the current 22 per cent is part of a plan to improve environmental conditions, said Chongqing mayor Huang Qifan. The forestry campaign is predicted to cost more than Rmb10bn over the next three to five years.

For its part Chongqing urban area is set to invest heavily in wastewater treatment, Mr Huang said.
Currently 75 per cent of the city’s sewage is treated before disposal in the river and about 80 per cent of rubbish is buried or treated, but these proportions are not enough for a healthy river, according to the mayor. Some Rmb28bn will be spent on sewage treatment facilities over the next three years.

To underline the scale of the problem along the entire length of the river, a weekly report released by the Environmental Monitoring of China agency on 17 August revealed that just two of the 18 monitoring stations along the Yangtze graded the water quality as good.

The quantity of sewage still discharged into the river is one problem. Another is the presence of thousands of chemical plants near the riverbanks.

Launched by the Ministry of Environmental Protection, a two-month national crackdown on potentially polluting chemical factories situated near rivers and lakes starts in September. About 400,000 chemical factories are expected to be inspected in the campaign, said Zou Shoumin, director of the ministry’s environmental supervisory bureau.
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