Clean-up at last for Wei River

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 December, 2007, 12:00am

Construction of 10 more sewage-treatment plants is under way along a major tributary of the Yellow River as the toxic flow and choking stench of the Wei River increasingly threatens people nearby.

Once completed, the 10 plants and 22 other treatment facilities already under construction will boost daily sewage-treatment capacity from 87,000 to 1.02 million tonnes, Xinhua reported yesterday quoting Huang Saimeng, a senior planning official with the Shaanxi provincial government.

The Wei, the Yellow River's biggest tributary, supplies water to 64 per cent of the province's population and three-quarters of its farmland, but its water quality has deteriorated in the past two decades because of wanton discharge of industrial wastewater from numerous chemical factories and paper mills.

Statistics from Shaanxi's Environmental Protection Bureau show that water tested last year at nine of 13 monitoring spots fell into the lowest quality category.

Some 65 per cent of the region's gross domestic product is generated by the industries along the river.

But the blind pursuit of economic development has turned the river into a black flow laden with poisonous chemicals. Although Shaanxi authorities rolled out regulations in 1998 to tackle pollution of the Wei River, only four sewage-treatment plants have been built.