Xinhua News Agency

Yellow River teems with pollution

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 28 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 28 March, 2004, 12:00am

Water pollution in the Yellow River, the second largest on the mainland, is costing more than 11.5 billion yuan a year in economic losses, according to conservation experts.

In a Xinhua report yesterday, the experts warned that pollution in the river, a major water source for the northern mainland, was approaching unacceptable levels.

The river had carried 4.2 billion cubic metres of waste water each year for the past decade, it said. That is double the figure of the 1980s.

About two-thirds of the waste water came from industry along the river. The pollution cost between 2 and 3 billion yuan a year in production and quality, the report said.

Agriculture along the river also suffered an annual loss of 3.3 billion yuan.

The experts, from a government-backed organisation tasked with protecting the Yellow River, warned about the health risks posed by polluted irrigation water.

Poor health suffered by residents in the region would amount to about 2.5 billion yuan, they said.

An additional 6 billion yuan was required each year to pay for sewage treatment.

In a separate report, Xinhua said water pollution in the drainage area of the Yellow River in northern China had lead to the extinction of a third of the ecosystem's longest-inhabiting species over the past decade.

The river's freshwater tributaries teemed with fish and shrimp in the 1960s, but these had now largely disappeared due to the increased pollution, water protection experts said.