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Cities upgrading drainage systems after floods

By Shi Yingying and Zhou Lihua (China Daily)

08:50, July 27, 2012

City governments across China are hastily ordering checks on drainage systems, and several have unveiled plans for extensive upgrades, following the fatal floods in Beijing.

Shanghai, Wuhan and Guangzhou have announced multibillion-yuan projects, as officials look to allay residents' worries about cities' ability to handle heavy downpours.

Ma Yuandong, an official at Shanghai Drainage Administration, said the metropolis will invest 10.4 billion yuan ($1.63 billion) to improve 28 drainage systems before 2015.

Some systems will be replaced and others renovated to make them larger, Ma said.

"Most Shanghai streets can drain only 36 millimeters or less of rainwater an hour, though some areas, such as the airports, Expo site and Lujiazui financial district, can handle 50 to 57 millimeters (an hour)," said Liu Bo, a flood control official at the Shanghai Drainage Administration.

"The truth is, however, if Shanghai went through what happened to Beijing last Saturday, it wouldn't do any better."

The heaviest rainstorm in 61 years devastated Beijing on Saturday and killed 77 people, including 34-year-old Ding Zhijian, who drowned when his car got stuck in an underpass.

Authorities in the capital have conceded that the drainage system leaves much to be desired, as it can cope with only 30 mm or less rain per hour.

The capital's poor drainage system contributed directly to the death of Ding, said professor Li Tian at Tongji University's environmental science and engineering college, who is an expert on urban drainage system.

"Every underpass (in Beijing) is equipped with a water pump and that particular one couldn't help because all the nearby sewers were full, so the pump couldn't remove rainwater," he said.

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