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Across China: Reservoirs clogged by littering villagers



GUANGZHOU, April 19 (Xinhua) -- A huge buildup of garbage at a dam on a southern Chinese river has just been cleared after 20 days of work, but officials are worried it will just reappear next flood season if villagers upstream are not dissuaded from littering.
The Beijiang River in Guangdong Province is plagued by pollution. Every spring, heavy rain swells the river and washes garbage and dead trees downstream to be trapped by the Lechangxia Dam.
The refuse covered an area the size of 28 football pitches, and was a meter thick, said Luo Liqian, a manager of the dam.
"Over half of the garbage is household waste. Some villagers just dump garbage randomly and even throw it directly into the river," Luo said.
The pollution is endangering the safety of drinking water for the 180,000 residents of Lechang City on the lower reaches of the Beijiang, as the river is the source of the city's water supply.
"The garbage rots in the sun and makes the river smelly," said Tan Zhenxiang, head of Lechang's tap water company.
There is also a risk the dam could be overwhelmed. Chen Bing, another member of staff at the dam, said if its flood discharge gate is blocked, the flood water could overflow the dam and threaten people living nearby.
"I am afraid the pollution will arrive again next spring when the flood season begins," Luo said. "We must identify the root cause and take measures against it."
The Lechangxia Dam is far from the only such facility catching a dangerous amount of garbage in China.
Luo Liqian noted that treating river pollution requires coordination between local governments.
According to Cao Haixiong, with the environmental protection bureau of Lechang, Guangdong and neighboring Hunan Province have launched a mechanism to coordinate treatment of heavy metal pollution in rivers, and they plan to expand their partnership to garbage treatment.
Stopping junk from getting into the water can be straightforward. Guangdong's Lianzhou City, on the Huangchuan River, used to get a lot of pollution flowing downstream from villages deep in the mountains. One of them, Xinba, employed three locals go around collecting household trash.
"In the past, as well as sewage being discharged directly into the river, the villagers threw garbage into it," village official Tang Jialiang said. "The situation is much better now." Enditem

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