The Guangzhou government plans to stem sewage flows from 116 of the city's creeks and canals into the Pearl River by 2007. Chen Xianqiang , an official from the municipal government unit charged with the cleanup, said 35 creeks and canals would be cleaned up this year and another 50 next year. Sewage flows into 24 creeks and canals had been blocked by the end of last year. 'We [will] build pipes along the creeks and canals or farther away to collect waste water, and channel them to sewage treatment plants,' he said. More than 900km of pipes would be needed to cover the entire city, he said, and 261km had been laid so far. But the pipe-laying process was slow because of complications arising from the need to relocate residents. The project to clean up Longtan canal was awarded to a contractor in November, but work has been unable to start because of unresolved relocation issues. One of the prominent cleanup projects is on Shamian Island, where the diversion of waste water has been given priority. Formerly an enclave for foreign traders who built stately residences dating back to the turn of the 20th century, Shamian's tourism potential has been overpowered by the stench that wafts from the river. The channels around the island were drained in the spring and silt was dredged. The next stage of the 6 million yuan project will see the installation of rubber dams that will permit water to flow but reduce silt build-up. Work on the infamous Donghao canal, another cesspool that lies beneath the elevated inner ring road, began in 2000 and will be completed next month. Sewage from the canal, which served as the old city moat, is being redirected to the Liede water treatment plant 'The southern length of the canal is already clean and we are trying to flush it out with river water during high tide,' Mr Chen said. 'By July, the entire length of the canal will be clean. Then, it will smell as good or as bad as the river.' Guangzhou built its first sewage treatment plant in 1989, and now has the capacity to treat 1.42 million tonnes of sewage a day. But the incomplete pipe network means that only 1.32 million tonnes are treated each day. Hundreds of thousands of tonnes are not treated at all. Professor Herbert Fang, from the University of Hong Kong's Centre for Environmental Engineering, said that what Guangzhou was doing was commendable, but the central government had to manage the entire river instead of just sections. 'It's not that they are not doing it correctly, but it's a temporary local solution. Of course, it's better than nothing, but overall somebody has to co-ordinate and I believe it should be the Pearl River [Water Resources] Commission,' he said. The commission only has a mandate to monitor water quality and set discharge levels. Guo Weiqing , from Sun Yat-sen University's School of Political Science and Public Administration, said the commission's authority should override that of provincial governors, who were more focused on meeting economic targets.