Earthquake survivors are drinking a different kind of French beverage - clean water - but, for the people of Tongji, it is more welcome than the finest champagne. Aquassistance, a humanitarian association formed by volunteers from the French utilities company Suez Group, has just turned on the taps for people still living in the mountain town after the disaster. A few weeks ago, mainlanders were calling for a boycott of French products and protesting outside stores of the Carrefour chain. They were angry about disruptions to the Paris leg of the Olympic torch relay and French President Nicolas Sarkozy's possible boycott of the Games opening ceremony. But the earthquake has pushed politics aside. China has accepted Euro380,000 (HK$4.61 million) in assistance from the French government. Carrefour has donated 23 million yuan (HK$25.89 million) as well as 1.2 million yuan worth of goods. 'This is exactly the time to show [Chinese] people and the government that we are with them,' said Laura Sun, executive vice-president of Sino-French Water Development, a venture between Suez and Hong Kong's New World group. People gawked as two foreign engineers set up a 10,000 litre reservoir for water from a well, added chlorine and improved a network of pipes to deliver the resource for drinking and cooking. Tongji residents seemed only vaguely aware of the row with France. Waiting in line with four buckets, Yang Jinxiu looked puzzled when asked about the torch relay in Paris and support for Tibet. 'The French government is wrong,' she replied, but added: 'The water is very good.' Foreign companies have donated at least 3.4 billion yuan in cash and goods for earthquake relief. Suez gave money, but also sent a team to repair pipes in Pengzhou city and donated four water treatment units, which will be installed in coming days by the two volunteers. 'It's a new mission, but I see the same people, those who lost everything,' said Jean-Louis Devallez, who has gone to more than 20 countries to supply water, packing his two essential tools - a Bible and a jackknife. The water treatment units were stranded in customs in Beijing and then put off a flight to Sichuan province for being too heavy, due to a mix-up about their status as relief supplies. The four-hour delay frustrated Mr Devallez and his partner, Canadian Claude Boucher. 'It's difficult even to do a good thing,' said Ms Sun, who accompanied the team. The company depended on its connections in Chongqing , the site of a Sino-French Water venture, to make the donations and identify possible recipients for the treatment units. 'We have a lot of connections with the local government, which is necessary to get in,' said Carl Redman, the company's customer service manager for China. In the disaster zone, local officials were eager for the assistance as they set up temporary housing for displaced people, trying to meet ambitious targets for reconstruction. 'Our people will have water,' said Mao Haibo , an official of the Pengzhou city water company, which administers Tongji.