JINAN, July 5 (Xinhua)-- The quality of the water in the eastern route of China's massive south-to-north water diversion project has improved in recent years.
The quality of water from 23 out of 36 test places was of grade I, II and III quality according to the latest tests in the first quarter of this year, said Zhang Jiyao, director of the Office of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project Commission (SNWDPC) of the State Council Monday at a conference.
China uses a six-grade classification scheme for water quality. Grade I is the best. Water no worse than grade III can be used for drinking, although sometimes treatment is required. Water worse than grade V cannot be used for irrigation.
The improvement came after seven years of work to improve the water quality along the eastern route of the project, including building more wastewater and garbage treatment plants, said Zhang.
Zhang said construction of all 426 wastewater and garbage treatment projects planned in Shandong and Jiangsu provinces had started, with 399 of them completed.
The South-to-North Water Diversion Project, consisting of eastern, central and western routes, is designed to divert water from the water-rich south of China, mainly the Yangtze, the country's longest river, to the country's arid northern part. It started with construction of the eastern route in 2002.
Up to now, both of the eastern and central routes are already under construction. The western route, meant to replenish the Yellow River with water from the upper reaches of the Yangtze through tunnels in the high mountains of western China, is still at the planning stage.
The eastern route, which extends 1,476 km long and mainly runs through Jiangsu and Shandong on east China's east seaboard, is primarily built on the basis of the existing Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal and other lakes. The efforts to harness pollution has remained arduous in construction of the eastern route because the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal and the lakes to be included for the route have long been seriously polluted.
The eastern route is expected to start service in 2013. By then, water in it should at least meet grade III quality standard, according to the SNWDPC.