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Drinking Water Quality Named Top Priority

Improving the quality of drinking water sources in Guangdong has been named as the most important environmental mission of the provincial government in the coming years.

Guangdong Environment Protection Bureau published a report yesterday on the environmental situation of the province in South China last year and in the period of the 10th Five-Year Plan (2000-05).

According to the report, Guangdong has 66 drinking water sources, covering all of its 21 cities.

The quality of all drinking water sources, except those in the cities of Guangzhou and Shenzhen, met the national standard last year.

"The situation is very positive we will do a lot more in the future, hoping all drinking water sources meet the national standard as soon as possible," Chen Guangrong, deputy director of the bureau, said yesterday in a press conference on the report. 
As Hong Kong and Macao share the same water sources with the province, Chen promised Guangdong's environment authority would further co-operate with the special administrative regions to tackle environmental issues.

Chen said the bureau has proposed the provincial government enact a law to protect the drinking water sources.

Compared with the related indices in 2004, the air quality across the province improved last year, meeting the second-level of national standard.

Air quality in China's urban areas is classified into five levels, from level one for excellent and level five for hazardous.

The average density of nitrogen dioxide was 0.028 milligrams in 1 cubic meter of air last year in the province, dropping by 7.9 percent on the previous year.

Chen said although the general trend was positive, there were some concerns over sulphur dioxide levels, which are on the increase.

"To generate energy for the rapid growth of the regional economy, power plants are producing more emissions of sulphur dioxide," Chen said.

The bureau also revealed that more than 70 percent of the river water flowing across urban areas was rated as polluted or heavily polluted.

According to the bureau's report in the fourth annual plenary session of the 10th Guangdong Provincial People's Congress in February, it will desulphurize all large sized thermal power plants by 2008, and require all newly-built power plants possess desulphurization facilities to improve the environmental situation.

The bureau has set targets of disposing at least 60 percent of household sewage, 80 percent of household rubbish and 70 percent of discarded electronic products and electrical appliances in urban areas.

(China Daily April 18, 2006)

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