Pollution threatens water supply to locals
LESHAN, Sichuan Province: Water supply for 250,000 people living near one of China's most famous tourist spots could be cut off if pollution in the area gets significantly worse.
Paper mills on the Qingyi River in Leshan of Southwest China's Sichuan Province, the site of the world's largest 1,202-metre sitting Buddha, are dumping waste into the waterway, which provides more than 80 per cent of the drinking water for locals in downstream Leshan.
Water companies who are then unable to meet water safety requirements will be forced to shut operations.
The Sichuan Provincial Environmental Protection Bureau says the mills have waste treatment facilities but to save money, these are only operated when sites are inspected.
Xu Dong, a 40-year-old local resident in this tourist city, claims to have had a headache since late last month.
"Sometimes when I turn on the tap water, the water from the pipe looks yellow and smells," he said.
"There are many paper mills on both sides of the Ya'an, Meishan and Leshan sections of the Qingyi River, and untreated waste materials from many of them have found their way into the river."
Since late last month, white bubbles have surfaced in the river, causing it to smell.
The water produced by the Leshan Tap Water Co Ltd and Leshan Water Supply Company, which provide all the tap water for local residents, becomes as yellow as urine whenever the mills discharge excessive waste into the river.
The Leshan Tap Water is on the brink of stopping operations.
Departments in charge of environmental protection in the city have submitted an emergency report to the Sichuan Provincial Environmental Protection Bureau.
(China Daily 01/14/2005 page3)