China to Monitor Aquatic Life in Songhua River


Authorities in northeast China's Heilongjiang Province plan to build several aquatic life monitoring stations in the Songhua River, the country's third largest, in a bid to acquire a better understanding of the river's water quality.
Environmental authorities had previously monitored river water quality by analyzing physical and chemical indices, but that was a monotonous approach, Li Ping, director of the Heilongjiang Provincial Department of Environmental Protection, said Monday.

"There is abundant aquatic life in rivers, which can play the roles of pre-warning, accumulation and indication in environmental protection," he said.

Environmental staff will mainly monitor biological diversity, biological toxicology and biological residue to survey the quality of the river's water, he said.

The Songhua River is the largest tributary of the Sino-Russian border river of Heilong, known as the Amur in Russia. The 1,900-km-long river originates in the neighboring province of Jilin and meanders through an area of 550,000 square km.

In November 2005, about 100 metric tons of industrial waste spilled into the Songhua River after an explosion at a chemical plant in Jilin, prompting cities along the river to cut water supplies to 3.8 million people.

The government launched a five-year campaign in 2006 to clean up the river and remove harmful pollution resulting from the explosion.

Li said the pollution resistance of aquatic life is weaker than that of humans. "Therefore, if monitoring results on aquatic life conform to relevant standards, then the water quality and drinking water safety for human beings can be guaranteed."

"In this way, we can assess and analyze the impact of the quality of the water in the Songhua River on the bordering river of Heilong as well as the lower reaches," he added.

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