Shanghai will launch more clean-up projects this year to improve the water quality of Suzhou Creek, in a bid to make the city's main waterway pollution-free within four years, a senior official said yesterday.
The fourth round of a campaign to clean up Suzhou Creek will be carried out soon to clear heavily polluted water — rated Grade 5 — on the creek and its branches by 2021, said Shanghai Water Authority director Bai Tinghui.
The 125-kilometer long Suzhou Creek, which flows from Qingpu District to the Waibaidu Bridge, is the biggest tributary of the Huangpu River. Its downtown section runs through Putuo, Jing'an, Hongkou and Huangpu districts.
China has six grades of water quality. Grade 1 is potable after minimal treatment while grade 6 is severely contaminated.
The creek which runs across the city is rated Grade 5 plus, with excessive ammonia and nitrogen as the main pollutants, according to the Shanghai Environmental Protection Bureau.
Levees along the main stream will be reinforced, shipping channels improved and an "ecologic sightseeing corridor" created along the waterfront for residents.
"Suzhou Creek will become an open area to showcase the city's waterways and Haipai culture as well as become a free activity zone for leisure and recreation," Bai said.
Haipai refers to Shanghai's unique East-meets-West culture.
The city government invested about 14 billion yuan (US.1 billion) in three rounds of campaigns to improve the water quality of the creek between 1998 and 2011.
In the third round of the campaign, dredging was carried out to remove mud from a downtown section of the creek in 2011 to eliminate long-standing pollution problems.
That project covered 16.4 kilometers from where the creek joins the Huangpu River in the east to the Zhenbei Road Bridge in the west.
The mud, once the main cause of pollution, was the result of years of industrial and residential dumping.
The authority also opened a cruise service along the creek in 2012 to attract tourists and residents as well as show off its clean-up.
Ritzy riverside community
But water quality remains unreliable, especially during the rainy season when water is washed into the creek from the streets. This has prompted the water authority to begin renovating pumping stations.
Construction has also started on China's largest deep-water drainage system beneath the creek which is expected to improve flood control and water quality.
Upon completion in 2020, about 15 kilometers of pipes under the creek will drain rainwater from 58 square kilometers across Changning, Putuo, Jing'an and Huangpu districts.
The pipeline network will also purify the water before it reaches the creek.
The Jing'an District government also plans to develop the Suhe Bay area, which covers 4.3 square kilometers on both sides of the creek, into an upmarket riverside community.
Large blocks of historic riverside buildings will be preserved and protected. Along the creek, including 17 former banks and warehouses in what was the center of finance and commerce in the 1920s and 1930s.
Shanghai has a total of 43,427 waterways, but about half the city's surface water is heavily polluted — rated grade 5 or worse. A total of 1,864 polluted waterways city-wide must be cleaned up by the end of the year.