The government here will spend 48.6 billion yuan ($7 billion) over the next 18 months to clean up the Pearl River, Guangzhou Daily reported yesterday.
The plan is to clear the river and its tributaries of pollution by the middle of 2010, ahead of the Asian Games, which will be held in Guangzhou, the report said.
A total of 121 tributaries stretching 388 km will be cleaned.
Much of the money will be spent on the construction of 30 sewage treatment plants to boost handling capacity in the city by 2.25 million tons.
"The government has approved the plan and the funds are available," Vice-Mayor Su Zequn was quoted by the newspaper as saying.
"We are confident we can improve the condition of the water before the Games."
Chen Jiaqing, who has lived in Guangzhou's Tianhe district on a tributary of the Pearl River for the past 40 years, said he has seen the water quality deteriorate steadily.
"Overall, Guangzhou is much more beautiful than it was 20 years ago, but the dark waters of the Pearl River and its tributaries have long been the fly in the ointment," he told China Daily.
"The water is not as bad as it was, but it's still far from satisfactory," he said.
Sun Xiao, who works for a chemical firm in Shanghai, said the cleanup plan is a good idea. "Guangzhou is beautiful and the night cruises along the Pearl River are fascinating," she said.
"The river would be comparable to the Seine in Paris or the Rhine in Germany if the water was cleaner."
The task of cleaning up the Shijinghe River, known by locals as "the black dragon river" for its dark waters, began on Tuesday with the removal of huge deposits of sludge from the riverbed, Guangzhou Daily reported.
Source: China Daily