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Programme to rebuild Haihe
( 2003-12-22 09:47) (China Daily by Liang Chao)

Water officials have pledged to set up a network to improve the environment along the Haihe River, one of China's worst polluted major rivers which is also plagued by serious shortage of water resources.

Deng Jian, director of the Tianjin-based Haihe Water Conservancy Committee under the Ministry of Water Resources, said his agency has mapped out a plan to green the mountains along the river and turn clean up polluted water.

The final goal of the plan is to stop the ecosystem deteriorating any further, and fundamentally rehabilitate the environment along the river drainage areas, he said.

To achieve the goal of rebuilding the ecosystem along the river which stretches cross more than 1,000 kilometres covering parts of North China's eight provinces and metropolises like Beijing and Tianjin, Deng urged local water authorities to improve ecosystems in local rivers and lakes.

The project's top priority is to further intensify the protection of water quality in Beijing, Tianjin, and key reservoirs, tributaries and lakes, including the Miyun and Guanting reservoirs in Beijing, Panjiakou Reservoir, Baiyangdian Lake and the North Canal in Hebei Province.

They are all the greatest sources of water supply along the Haihe River, Deng added.

"Water supply and use in the Haihe River Valley have to be administrated and managed in line with different functions, while key causes of contamination must be brought under effective control," Deng said.

Local authorities were urged to establish an emergency mechanism to deal with outbreak of serious pollution and attracting non-government investment to the sewage sector.

Meanwhile, realtime monitoring systems are also needed for balance of regional water resources, particularly controlling excessive groundwater-taking to prevent further expanding of earth subsidence in North China.

Under Deng's plan, water supply used for ecological reconstruction is expected to be ensured to maintain the basic runoffs of local rivers and the rehabilitation of shrinking wetlands scattered cross the Haihe River Valley.

Some residents in the worst eroded areas might be relocated to curb water and soil erosion, particularly man-made new erosion, a menace to the river's ecosystem, Deng indicated.

Following a devastating floods along the Haihe River in 1963, late Chairman Mao Zedong said "the Haihe River must be brought under permanent control" as its frequently flooded, and droughts have caused havoc in the regional economy.

The river's 105 kilometre mainstream is joined by seven local rivers running through Beijing, Tianjin, Hebei, Shanxi, Henan, Shandong, Inner Mongolia and Liaoning before flowing into the Bohai Bay at Tianjin.

Dubbed the "mother river" of Tianjin, the Haihe plays a crucial role in the city's navigation, flood discharge, water storage and urban environment operations.

The river, nevertheless, is one of China's most polluted, due to excessive construction along its banks and constant climate changes over the years.

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