Wuhan wa­ter plants cleared to re­open af­ter qual­ity fail­ure

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By LIU KUN in Wuhan and YANG YANG in Bei­jing

More than 300,000 people in Wuhan, Hubei prov­ince, have been strug­gling to find suf­fi­cient safe wa­ter, even though three wa­ter plants that were closed re­sumed sup­ply­ing wa­ter on Thurs­day.

Zhao Jian­guo, spokesman for the Wuhan En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Bureau, con­firmed that the three wa­ter plants had been shut down be­cause of ex­ces­sive lev­els of am­mo­ni­an­i­tro­gen.

Lo­cal au­thor­i­ties who mon­i­tor wa­ter qual­ity in the Han­jiang River, a ma­jor source of wa­ter for the megac­ity of 10 mil­lion, found it pol­luted with the chemical on Tues­day.

On Wed­nes­day, the wa­ter plants were closed when the chemical was found at their gates, al­though au­thor­i­ties said no ab­nor­mal amount was found in pipes ser­vic­ing res­i­dents’ homes.

Still, more than 300,000 people who re­lied on the plants were switched to wa­ter from other plants. Sub­se­quent sup­plies were in­ter­mit­tent, stop­ping pe­ri­od­i­cally be­cause of un­sta­ble pres­sures in the pipe­lines, au­thor­i­ties said.

In res­i­den­tial ar­eas, people car­ried con­tain­ers out­side, wait­ing in line for wa­ter from pub­lic pipes that nor­mally sup­ply wa­ter for land­scap­ing and other non-potable uses.

The wa­ter res­i­dents col­lected could be used for some house­hold pur­poses, though not for cook­ing or drink­ing with­out treat­ment.

Many are buy­ing more bot­tled wa­ter.

An el­derly woman in Dongx­ihu district, who gave her fam­ily name as Li, said she would not drink tap wa­ter nor use it for cook­ing be­cause she didn’t trust it.

Zhang Quan, owner of a store in Li’s com­mu­nity, said sales of wa­ter had been very good since Wed­nes­day, as people bought mul­ti­ple packs of bot­tled wa­ter.

When am­mo­nia-ni­tro­gen con­cen­tra­tions reach 0.75 mil­ligrams per cu­bic me­ter, people can taste it, and if the fig­ure sur­passes 1.0, people can smell it, said Gong Jie, chief physi­cian at the Wuhan Cen­ter For Dis­ease Con­trol and Preven­tion.

Wuhan’s read­ing on Tues­day was 1.59 mil­ligrams per cu­bic me­ter.

Many res­i­dents wor­ried af­ter learn­ing that the wa­ter sus­pen­sions were re­lated to pol­lu­tion found in the Han­jiang River.

Zhao of the en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion bureau said the cause has not yet been iden­ti­fied. A pre­lim­i­nary in­ves­ti­ga­tion showed that pol­lu­tants could have en­tered the chan­nel up­stream.

In early April, wa­ter de­liv­ery to four districts in Lanzhou, Gansu prov­ince, was sus­pended for four days af­ter two wa­ter pipe­lines were con­tam­i­nated by nearby oil and chemical sub­stances.

From Jan­uary to March, there were at least 10 in­ci­dents re­lated to wa­ter qual­ity in which tap wa­ter was found with an un­usual odor, Bei­jing­based Ori­en­tal Out­look mag­a­zine re­ported. Con­tact the writ­ers at yangyangs@chi­nadaily.com. cn and liukun@chi­nadaily. com.cn

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