JINAN, Aug. 5, (Xinhuanet) -- Yunxi, a remote county in central China's Hubei Province, has attracted people's attention, like its traditional specialty, ginger, in recent days.
The waste water, produced by ginger processing factories, flows right to Danjiangkou Reservoir, the water source of the middle route of China's gigantic South-to-North Water Diversion Project, the largest of its kind under construction in China.
The project will be equivalent to another Yellow River in terms of its water flow when finished.
The project has three routes: the eastern route is to divert water from the lower reaches of the Yangtze River to Hebei Province and Tianjin Municipality in north China, the middle routestarts from the Danjiangkou Reservoir on the upper reaches of Hanjiang River to Hebei and Henan provinces and Beijing, China's capital, while the western route is to divert water from the Tongtian River, the Yalong River and the Dadu River, on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, to the upper reaches of the Yellow River.
To date, construction on two of the three routes, the middle and eastern ones, have been launched. Construction of the western leg has not broken ground yet. As the two routes run through economically 0developed eastern and central China, pollution posesa great threat to their construction.
To reduce pollution, Yunxi County has closed nearly half of its ginger production plants, but the remainders still discharge 150,000 tons of highly polluted waste water each year.
"It took 20 years for the county to turn ginger production intoa pillar industry. This local industry is experiencing a severe challenge," said Lu Fuchang, the county magistrate.
Apart from the middle route, the source of the eastern route isalso under the threat of pollution.
Sanjiangying, the water source of the eastern route, is home to 80 shipyards that discharge heavy pollutant, resulting in water contamination in nearby areas, said Wang Mingyuan, director of the Water Resources Bureau of Jiangdu, a city in eastern Zhejiang Province.
"The water is so dirty that we can't catch any fish. Many fishermen have already given up fishing and found jobs in cities,"said a 40-year-old fisherman surnamed Xu.
"I've heard that the water would be sent to Beijing. I wonder how people there can drink such dirty water?" said Liu Peiguo, a worker at a ferry boat.
There is only two years left before the water would be diverted to Shandong Province, Beijing and Tianjin municipalities through the eastern route in 2007.
The latest report on water quality in the Huaihe River and other parts of the eastern route indicates that the water pollution was barely relieved from the previous year, since 17 of the 26 surveillance sites reported above-level pollution.
The report was carried out by the Huaihe River Water Environment Surveillance Center based on monthly statistics collected in July.
Building of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project was putforward by late Chinese Communist Party Chairman Mao Zedong in 1952 and approved by the State Council in December 2002 after about half a century's debate.
Upon completion in 2050, it is expected to divert 44.8 billioncubic meters of water annually from the Yangtze, China's longest river, through the eastern, middle and western routes to arid north.
Officials from both Jiangsu and Shandong provinces have signeda letter of responsibility with the central government, pledging to clear up pollutants along the water system. However, critics say action has been too slow.
For the entire eastern route of the project, about 250 pollution control projects are planned to be built by the end of 2005. However, nearly 30 percent of them have not broken ground so far.
"Despite all the difficulties, we will try our best to improvethe water quality and make it to reach drinkable level by 2007," said He Quan, vice governor of Jiangsu. Enditem