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Urgent need for waste water treatment
By Li Fangchao (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-05-09 06:23

HARBIN: Only 10 per cent of the waste water in Northeast China's Heilongjiang Province is being treated because of a lack of processing plants.

More than 40 species of fish are said to have disappeared from local rivers in recent years because of the pollution.

Statistics show that many of the cities in China do not have any waste water processing plants and nearly half of the plants in the country are not running smoothly.

But the good news is that a new treatment plant is on the way to Heilongjiang Province.

Pipelines are being laid along the Songhua River in Harbin, the provincial capital, in preparation.

The new plant, when it begins operating next year, will be able to process 325,000 tons of sewage each day.

Then, it is hoped, the quality of the river water will improve, with a treatment rate of 60 per cent or more. Yan Weiliang, director of the Pollution Control Department of the Heilongjiang Provincial Environment Protection Bureau, said: "At present, only 10 per cent of the waste water of the province can be treated."

According to the "Report of the Environment Condition of Heilongjiang Province of 2004," water and air in the province remain heavily polluted, especially in urban areas.

Most rivers and reservoirs in the province are polluted to varying degrees, while the lower reaches of rivers near cities are heavily polluted.

Eleven major cities in the province together contribute more than 80 per cent of industrial waste water and more than 90 per cent of waste water from residents.

Harbin alone produces nearly 1 million tons of waste water per day. Most of it flows directly into the Songhua River, which traverses the city from west to east, without any treatment whatsoever.

The city currently has only one waste processing plant, which can process 325,000 tons per day, about 30 per cent of the total amount.

Xue Jun from the Fishery Department of the Harbin Municipal Agriculture Commission said 79 species of fish could be found in the river a decade ago.

However, that figure had dropped to 34 according to a survey in August 2000.

"The situation must be even worse now," he added.

Yan said he hoped the lack of waste water processing plants was also an opportunity because the demand to treat waste water must be met.

(China Daily 05/09/2005 page3)

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