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Half of Shanghai's rivers and lakes heavily polluted
08.09.2013
    More than half of Shanghai’s rivers and lakes are heavily polluted and much of their soil beds seriously contaminated, according to the city’s first water census.
     
    Some 53 percent of local surface water was below Grade V, the worst of five water quality levels, the Shanghai Water Authority said yesterday.
     
    Only three percent of the water in the city’s rivers and lakes was better than Grade III, a level that indicates the water can be used as water resources for residents as well as fish and shrimp farms.
     
    Some 23 percent of water is Grade IV, meaning it is not drinkable but can be used for industry or in scenic areas, in fountains for example. 
     
    The remaining 20 percent is Grade V, meaning it  can only be used for irrigation. 
     
    The condition of the soil at the bottom of the rivers and lakes was also of concern. Five percent was seriously polluted with heavy metal elements, 28 percent was either slightly or heavily polluted while just 27 percent had no traces of heavy metals. 
     
    The city government determined the quality of over 2,500 major rivers and lakes and tested soil samples from 309 rivers and lakes during the census between 2010 and 2012, the water authority said.
     
    The total length of Shanghai’s rivers is put at around 25,000 kilometers  and there  about 527.84 square kilometers of lakes.
     
    Experts say the main reason for the pollution is the waste water from the city’s large number of factories. 
     
    Downstream Suzhou Creek and some small creeks in suburban areas were the worst polluted, with some of them black and foul-smelling, the census found.
     
    Dianshan Lake, the biggest lake in the city, is under threat from eutrophication and its water quality is worsening, according to the water authority.
     
    Downstream Huangpu River attains Grade IV level, while upstream, part of the city’s tap water resources, is Grade III.
     
    The mouth of the Yangtze River, site of the city’s Qingcaosha Reservoir, has the best quality water at Grade II.
     
    About 70 percent of the city’s population now gets its tap water from the Yangtze River, which is purified at the reservoir. The Huangpu River has been mainly used as a reserve water resource.
     
    The city’s census is part of nationwide census on water quality of rivers and lakes.
     
    A recent government report said it was “not optimistic” about  China’s water quality. It said about a quarter of 60 lakes and reservoirs monitored had excessive amounts of algae.
     
    The quality of coastal waters in the Yellow and South China seas is good, while that of the Bohai and East China seas is poor, the Ministry of Environmental Protection report said.
     
    Seven of the country’s nine most important bays had bad water quality, particularly the Bohai and Hangzhou bays and the Yangtze River and Pearl River estuaries, it said.
     
    The central government is to spend more than 3 trillion yuan (US$489.3 billion) to enhance air and water pollution prevention and treatment, environmental officials have said.
     
    An estimated 2 trillion yuan will be spent to enhance monitoring of drinking water sources and control poisonous contaminants, according to Wang Tao, an official with the environment ministry’s pollution prevention department.