JINAN: Shandong Province will invest more than US$1.17 billion into creating a "clean water corridor" along part of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project.
The cash will help fund about 315 initiatives by the eastern route of the scheme to combat water pollution, according to Zhang Kai, head of the Shandong Environment Protection Bureau.
The water diversion project will channel water from the country's longest river, the Yangtze River, to northern China.
The eastern route goes through Shandong Province, which is designed to transfer water from East China's Jiangsu Province on the Yangtze River into Tianjin in North China.
Around 130 sewage treatment plants will be built, along with 149 industrial pollution control projects, 21 polluted water diversion schemes and 16 comprehensive pollution control initiatives.
To date, 73 of the projects have been completed, 36 are still under construction and work is expected to be under way on the rest of the schemes by the end of the year.
Pollution control is the main priority for the eastern route, which passes many polluted cities, according to Zhang.
The official promised to ensure the water quality along the Shandong section of the line would reach at least Grade III, the minimum standard for drinking water, before June 2007.
Forty-four sewage plants in the Shandong section will be pipelined for nitrogen and phosphorus removal by the end of next year.
"It is especially important that environmental awareness and governmental confidence in pollution prevention along the route increases," Zhang told China Daily.
Officials said the province's emphasis was on developing a comprehensive pollution-control scheme combining urban pollution management, waste water recycling, agricultural pollution control and biological wetland construction.
All businesses along the line are required to reach certain environmental protection standards.
Meanwhile, statistics indicate that fertilizers running off 26,000 hectares of farmland, reclaimed in the 1970s, into Nansi Lake and Dongping Lake account for one-tenth of the total phosphorus and nitrogen pollution along the eastern route.
The province plans to invest US$170 million in returning the agricultural land to clean wetland.
Before the water diversion project began in December 2002, Shandong made efforts to reduce pollution along what would become the part of the route of the scheme.
Statistics indicate that compared with 2000, discharges of major pollutants, such as ammonia and nitrogen, had declined by 20 per cent and 30 per cent respectively, by 2005.
In the past five years, Shandong has closed 70 paper mills and all alcoholic production facilities with capacities of less than 5,000 tons to reduce the risk of pollution. More than 33 waste water treatment plants have also been built, with a total daily disposal capacity of 1.75 million cubic metres.
(China Daily 06/28/2006 page3)