Harbin cuts water supply for pollution fear
Updated: 2005-11-23 06:14
HARBIN: The city government yesterday made a U-turn by admitting that fears
of water contamination in Songhua River, which supplies the capital of
Heilongjiang Province, were behind the city's four-day water supply cut.
On Monday, it rejected such fears as "just a rumour," saying the stoppage
scheduled to begin late last night was for a thorough check of the water-supply
Students at Gongbin
Primary School in Harbin join in the water-storage exercise as the city
suspended its water supply at midnight Monday.[China
A government statement said yesterday that the environment bureau had
forecast that possibly-contaminated water could arrive from the upper reaches of
the river in the coming days following a chemical plant blast on November 13.
The chemical plant in Jilin city, in the neighbouring Jilin Province, is only
a few hundreds metres from the banks of the 1,850-kilometre Songhua. Harbin is
on the middle reaches of the river.
The Harbin municiapl government has decided, starting Wednesday, all the
city's secondary and primary schools will be closed, till November 30, when safe
water supply will have resumed.
Students will have a lesson on safety on Wednesday morning and then be
The water-supply cut, earlier announced to be from noon yesterday, was
postponed to midnight as the government called on residents, work units and
businesses to store enough water.
All the city's wells will be used to supply drinking water and the health
department should ensure safety, the government said, adding that water tankers
would be on standby.
City residents, who number 3.8 million, continued to buy and stock up water.
All utensils, such as pails, kegs, thermos flasks, and washbasins in the city
were filled; and containers enjoyed brisk sales.
Bottled mineral water remained out of stock in supermarkets and shops but
beverages and milk were available.
However, there was no panic buying like on Monday or long queues at shopping
centres because tap water was available.
At noon, the government issued a statement saying the water quality in
Songhua was normal, and called on citizens to remain calm.