Pearl River water hub to secure Macau’s fresh water supply

Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Issue 294, Page 2
Word count: 1005
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung in Guangzhou

A 19-billion-yuan water hub including a sea-embedded power plant, floodgate and a 1.5 billion capacity dam is set to be built in the Pearl River basin in order to guarantee a long-term and adequate water supply to Macau and other Pearl River Delta regions.

This was said by director of the Pearl River Water Commission, Yue Zhongming, who received a team of Macau delegates led by Secretary for Transport and Public Works, Lau Si Io, in Guangzhou’s Pearl River Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarter yesterday.

The proposal and preliminary work reports of the project, Mr Yue said, had already been submitted to the central government for review, however, the date of starting the construction was not yet certain.

The Macau delegation, which was made up of members of the Water Salinity Management Group and the Promotional Group of Water Saving, left Macau yesterday for a four-day trip to the capital cities of three Chinese provinces of Guangdong, Guizhou and Guangxi where they would discuss anti-salinity and water conservation measures with the Chinese officials.

The attending members include vice-president of the Chinese Liaison Office in Macau, Tan Yanjuan; president of the Maritime Administration, Wong Soi Man; acting president of the Environmental Protection Committee, Vong Man Hung; deputy general manager of Macao Water, Oscar Chu; and member of the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) management committee, Terrance Ng Peng In.

According to vice-engineer-in-chief of the Pearl River Water Commission, Zhao Xiaolin, during the morning meeting with the Macau delegation, issues of drinking water safety have become more and more prevalence because of the rapid economic and population growth in Macau and the Pearl River Delta which led to a significant increase of water usage.

Macau consumed 20 percent more water nowadays when compared with 2006, Ms Zhao said.

Looking at the characteristics and management conditions of the Pearl River basin, Ms Zhao quoted the experts saying that a long-term and effective mechanism must have to be established so as to solve the root problem of water resources in the area.

Apart from setting out regulations of the major reservoirs, the Macau delegation was told that construction of the “Da Teng Strait Water Hub” project set in the Pearl River basin’s Xijiang River near Guangxi province had to begin as soon as possible.

The “Pearl River Basin Flood Control Planning” and the “Special Project of Securing Macau and Zhuhai’s Water Supply Safety”, which were approved by the Chinese State Council in 2007 and this year, had clearly indicated the vital role the water hub was playing in the areas of flood control, water resources allocation as well as safeguarding the safety of water supply for Macau and other Pearl River Delta regions, Ms Zhao said.

The Da Teng Strait Water Hub controls 56.4 percent of the Xijiang River basin which is the biggest river of the Pearl River basin, has a basin area of more than 340,000 square kilometers and stretches 894-kilometre long.

The hub will also control 65 percent of the amount of flood in the Xijiang River Flood Control Station in Wuzhou city and 56 percent of the water resources of Xijiang River, Ms Zhao added.

The dam, which is part of the project, will stand 71-metre tall, stretch 1,140-metre long and have a water level at 57.6 metres.

Due to the increase of water usage and the severity of drought season in the upper stream of the Pearl River, Ms Zhao said water volume had to be adjusted by watershed control works in a bid to boost the level of certainty in terms of supplying water from the river to the neighbouring regions.

She added that the construction would have the capability of dealing with contamination emergencies and swiftly supply fresh water to the lower stream.

During the drought period between 2007 and 2008, the Pearl River Water Commission had extracted eight times of total 100 million cubic metres fresh water directly from the river’s lower stream to supply to Macau to Zhuhai which effectively suppressed salinity at the time.

Salinity level in every litre of water supplied had been restricted to 60 milligrams which Ms Zhao said was far below the national standard of maximum 250 milligrams.

Also between 2006 and 2007, a number of water transpositions were conducted by the commission and consequently resulted in a 50-milligram salinity level in every litre of water Macau received from Zhuhai.

However, Ms Zhao said long-distance transposition could only ensure stable supply of fresh water temporarily and was not able to solve the inadequacy of Xijiang River’s water resources allocation and to guarantee an adequate flow of fresh water in ecological area and estuary.

According to the commission director, Yue Zhongming, the numerous water transpositions being done since 2005 were greatly supported by the Chinese central government and the State Council.

Premier Wen Jiabao had had issued significant order about the safety issue of water supply to Macau, Zhuhai and other regions.

As well, minister of water resources, Chen Lei, told the Macau delegation during the state conferences early this month in Beijing that securing their water quality as well as tackling the supply problem was an absolute obligation for the state department.

The 10 Macau representatives met with top officials from the Guangdong provincial government including vice-governor Li Ronggen for dinner at the Hotel White Swan.

Before the dinner started, Secretary Lau said the SAR government would strive to assure that the Water Salinity Management Group and the Promotional Group of Water Saving would contribute all year round no matter it was in the period of salinity or not, and also continue to promote campaigns and educational activities to the public about water conservation.

Meanwhile, vice-governor Li said working on water resources was one of the major cooperation projects between the central government and Macau, and “utilising water wisely” was another topic that they had to look at primarily after resources were being secured. 

The Macau team will be visiting Guizhou province’s Guiyang city this afternoon and then Guangxi province’s Nanning city tomorrow.

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