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All Rural Beijingers to Have Safe Drinking Water

All rural residents in Beijing will enjoy safe drinking water after 700,000 more villagers, the last group of thirsty people in outer rural areas, are covered by the city's water supply efforts this year.

"Beijing is expected to be the first among all provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities on the Chinese mainland to solve drinking water problems for rural population," said Yao Zhongyang, of the Beijing Municipal Development and Reform Commission.

The Chinese capital launched a project to provide safe drinking water to rural areas in 2005, when 1.75 million people in the countryside reported various drinking problems, including drinking water contaminated by high levels of fluorine, arsenic, ammonia and nitrogen, difficult access to water, and aging water-supply facilities.

The municipal government has invested more than 1 billion yuan (US$137.6 million) into the project over the past three years, which has benefited 1.05 million rural residents, Yao said.

(Xinhua News Agency January 12, 2008)

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