Sun, Oct 16, 2011 - Page 2 News List

Water quality in Tamsui River is improving: official

‘MILDLY POLLUTED’:Efforts to clean up the river have seen the closure of 54 factories caught polluting, the reporting of 207 pollution incidents and fines totaling NT$21.8 million

Staff Writer, with CNA

Environmental officials in New Taipei City (新北市) say that water quality in the Tamsui River (淡水河) has improved from “seriously polluted” to “mildly polluted.”

Chen Mei-ling (陳美玲), water quality protection section chief of the city’s Environmental Protection Department, said on Friday that the average river pollution index (RPI) for the 159km river is currently 2.9, below the benchmark of 3 that divides mild and intermediate pollution.

However, some sections of the river still have an RPI of more than 6, a figure that denotes serious -pollution, she said.

The RPI evaluates dissolved oxygen, biochemical oxygen demand, ammonia, nitrogen and suspended solids in the water. A value of 2 and under means slight or no pollution, a reading of between 2 and 3 denotes mild contamination, while a reading of between 3 and 6 shows intermediate pollution.

Tamsui River, the longest in northern Taiwan and third-longest in the country, has long been contaminated by industrial runoff and agricultural insecticides. The river used to be so polluted that the water was the color of ink, Chen said.

However, it has since become much lighter, the result of a project implemented by the department to combat river pollution this year.

The project has led to the closure of 54 factories that were caught discharging polluted water into the river, and the reporting of 207 acts of pollution, resulting in fines totaling NT$21.8 million (US$710,000), Chen said.

However, the section between the Fuzhou and Zhongxiao bridges remains seriously polluted, while other parts of the river, including the estuary and upstream area of the Keelung River (基隆河) — a branch of the Tamsui River — still have an intermediate level of pollution, Chen said.

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