BEIJING, July 6 (Xinhua) -- Authorities are still struggling with concerns about the poor water quality of the eastern route of the South-to-North Water Diversion (SNWD) project eight years after the eastern route's construction began.
Vice-Minister of Environmental Protection Zhang Lijun said thousands of polluting paper mills and alcoholic beverage factories have been shut down to improve the water quality of the world's largest water diversion project.
A State Council-approved directive issued before the eastern route's construction required local authorities to ensure the water quality is at least Grade 3, the minimum standard for water that is drinkable after treatment.
Director of the SNWD office under the State Council Zhang Jiyao was quoted as saying by Tuesday's China Daily,"There is still a long way to go before local authorities transform the eastern route into a clean-water corridor and ensure the quality won't decline again."
The construction of key pollution-control facilities is slated for the end of this year, Zhang said.
The facilities include manmade wetlands, which will purify urban waste water, and pipelines linking urban sewage treatment plants, he said.
Measures will prioritize curbing pollution caused by irregular aquaculture, rural sewage and small shipping wharfs scattered along the Grand Canal near the eastern route.
Zhang urged local authorities to monitor pollution upstream of the Danjiangkou Reservoir -- the water supply source of the SNWD's central route -- to prevent pollution from entering the reservoir or contaminating its under-construction trunk canal.