Fri, Jul 14, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Thousands brave murky Pearl River for quick swim


More than 3,500 swimmers braved the murky waters of the Pearl River in a campaign aimed at proving that the once badly polluted river has become cleaner, state press said yesterday.

Among those taking part in Wednesday's event in Guangzhou was Huang Huahua (黃華華), the governor of Guangdong Province, and Guangzhou Mayor Zhang Guangning (張廣寧), the Southern Daily newspaper reported.

"The main significance of swimming the Pearl River is to show that we have confidence and are determined to clean up and protect the river," Huang was quoted as saying.

"This is not going to be an easy task because the pollution is really serious," he said.

In 2003 the government implemented a plan to clean up the river, mandating that the water should be "neither black nor stinky" by 2005 and that river waters should run "clear" by 2010.

But some swimmers were not impressed.

"Under the water, I could not see things 0.5 meters in front of me. And my eyes were uncomfortable," a swimmer surnamed Fan told the Xinhua news agency.

The Pearl River has suffered for decades from industrial pollution and raw untreated sewage.

Huang admitted that the water along parts of the river remains too polluted to swim in and that this year's crossing was scheduled at the height of the rainy season to ensure cleaner water.

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