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Water news from China.

July 18, 2007

Some news from China that is amusing and also rather perplexing. The mayor leads a swim across a polluted river to show that it is now safe, but is it really? On one hand, it is a great public relations feat for the environment in the name of cleaning up pollution. On the other hand, it reminds us a bit too much of the Chisso Corporation’s behavior during the Minamata disease investigation and trial.

Guangzhou, China Mayor Leads Mass Swim in Polluted Pearl River

It does make us wonder, what would Israel’s leaders say if they were asked to go for a swim in the Kishon River? What about the Yarkon? Come on guys… wanna take a dip?

Read highlights from the China story behind the cut.


GUANGZHOU, China — Leaders of the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou led thousands in a “swimathon” across the Pearl River on Sunday to trumpet its recent cleanup — at a time of mounting water pollution crises across the country.

Guangzhou Mayor Zhang Guangning fired a starter’s gun before leading more than 3,500 people in a much hyped swim across the river, China’s third longest, whose lower reaches had been seriously polluted by rapid industrialisation.

The swim, an annual event, was abandoned in the 1970s because of the chronic pollution and resurrected only last year.

A government report released in May said pollution at the mouth of the Pearl River delta was “extremely severe,” and that 8.3 billion tonnes of sewage, much of it untreated, was flushed into the province’s coastal waters last year, a 60 percent jump from 2001.

Sunday’s 800-metre swim was meant to hail the success of recent cleanup initiatives including new sewage treatment plants — but some swimmers weren’t convinced.

“The water really stinks over there,” said one participant surnamed Zhao, who rinsed his mouth with a freshwater hose at the finish. “You can see. The water’s black,” he added.

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