Beijing Promises No
Algae Blooms in Olympic Game Waters
03 Jul 2008 13:27:20 GMT
July 3 (Reuters) - Beijing on Thursday pledged that an embarrassing outbreak of
algae that has invaded Olympic co-host city Qingdao's sailing venue would not
be repeated in any of the capital's bodies of water.
thrown 10,000 people and 1,200 vessels into the fight to clean up a huge algae
bloom that has turned large swathes of Qingdao's
offshore waters green and encroached on a third of Olympic sailing waters.
Bi Xiaogang, deputy director of
the Beijing Water Authority, said officials had studied and adopted measures to
prevent algae outbreaks in preparation for the Games for a number of years.
"I can responsibly say that all of the waters at
Olympic venues will not develop algae outbreaks, during and after the
Games," Bi said.
Algae blooms develop in water rich in nutrients, often
because of run-off from heavy fertilizer use, chemical pollution, or untreated
sewerage, all pollutants in ready supply in many parts of China.
Beijing officials last year
were on high alert after summer heat and low rainfall threatened to cause
blooms, similar to ones in southern China that cut off drinking water
to millions of people.
officials have set a deadline of July 15 to banish the algae from coastal
waters, and have ordered nine provinces to build a 32-kilometre (20 miles)
marine fence around the sailing venue, Xinhua news agency
said on Wednesday.
About 170,000 tonnes of algae have
already been scooped from waters and beaches in Qingdao, where about 30 countries are
currently training for sailing events, Xinhua said.
The former German concession port and popular summer resort
for millions of Chinese is regularly blighted by algae outbreaks.
Bi also promised Beijing's
water supplies would be enough to meet the needs of an extra 2.5 million Games
visitors, after Probe International, a Canadian-based conversation group, condemned
the city's tapping of strained underground supplies to provide water for
Olympic beautification projects.
Beijing's thirst for Olympic
water has also seen the construction of a mammoth 309-km (192 mile) canal to
pump emergency reserves from neighboring Hebei, already one of the
country's most water-short provinces.
"I can tell you that water reserves in Beijing's two
(main) reservoirs are enough to ensure the supplies during the Olympic
period", Bi said, but would not rule out the city tapping water from its
"We will study the water consumption situation in Hebei and Beijing
... and if there is a major impact on agriculture in Hebei, we will
provide compensation to local farmers," Bi said. (Reporting by Ian Ransom;
Editing by Alex Richardson)