Joint action plan launched to remediate Yangtze River

Ships sail through a section of the Xiling Gorge, one of the Three Gorges along the Yangtze River, in Zigui county of Yichang, Central China's Hubei province, Nov 29, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

In a move to strengthen conservation of the Yangtze River Basin, 17 central government bodies released a joint action plan on Monday, vowing a series of measures to reduce the discharge of pollutants into the river.

The plan projects that by 2025, direct discharges will have been addressed and a complete garbage classification system will have been established in the basin of the Asia's longest watercourse.

Controlling drainage is also a key concern emphasized in the action plan, which states that "through work on intercepting pollution and enhanced treatment, the plan endeavors to address the illegal discharge of sewage into the Yangtze River".

In 2019, the Ministry of Ecology and Environment located over 60,000 sewer exits emptying into the Yangtze, its nine major tributaries and Taihu Lake after authorities combed some 24,000 kilometers of shoreline.

Local authorities are now being asked to devise tailored rectification plans for each of the exits to ensure they operate in a properly regulated manner.

The plan mandates that this rectification work is to be completed by the end of 2025, with a long-term management mechanism also to be established.

The document also highlighted endeavors to curb desertification and the spread of rocky desert.

Some 75,000 hectares of land in the basin that currently suffers from desertification is to be remediated by 2025, in addition to 1 million hectares of stony desert. 

The document also noted that safety levels for drinking water will be improved, while the water use of important rivers and lakes will be regulated to significantly improve the quality of water and of the environment.

The plan mandates the treatment of 97 percent of domestic waste in counties in the Yangtze River Economic Belt, and the elimination of what it terms "black and odorous water bodies" in built-up areas of county-level cities.

The use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides will rise to 43 percent, the widespread use of livestock and poultry manure will be increased to 80 percent, and the recovery rate of agricultural film to 85 percent.

Xinhua contributed to this story.