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Residents, experts suspect fish deaths in Beijing river caused by pollution

2013-06-04 09:22 Global Times     Web Editor: Wang YuXia comment

Water authorities in Beijing are looking into what caused the death of large numbers of fish in a local river, with some local residents and experts blaming the poor water quality.

The dead and decomposing fish were discovered in the north section of the Shahe River in Beijing's Changping district. The watercourse, about 100-meters wide, is overrun by waterweed. The water close to the shore has turned blackish, and dead fish can be seen every few meters. The smell has attracted lots of flies, the Beijing Morning Post reported.

The fish died because too many were released together into the water by the public, an official, surnamed Guo, from Changping water authority told the paper. He added that the waterweed is a seasonal phenomenon. 

However, the report quoted another anonymous employee of the authority as saying that the water in the Shahe reservoir, including the north section of Shahe River, was indeed not very good.

The poor water quality may be caused by the inefficient processing capacity of local sewage treatment plants. The water bureau has tightened supervision of relevant draining units, the employee said.

An unnamed official with Changping water authority told the Global Times that they have looked into the fish deaths, but the cause is still unclear. He would not comment on whether the fish were part of a "mercy release" by well-meaning animal lovers.

Several residents told the Global Times that they suspect the fish died from the polluted water.

Liu Lihui, a local resident, posted several photos of the dead fish and the dirty water online, questioning why there is no one taking charge of the matter.

"The Shahe's water quality was still very good in the 1980s, but the pollution started in the 1990s and deteriorated at the end of that decade," said Zhang Junfeng, founder of water resource watchdog Happy Water Journeys. He added the river water mainly comes from sewage, which is directly piped into the river.

According to data from the Beijing Water Authority, the water in the southern, northern and eastern sections of the Shahe in April was categorized as level V3, which means polluted water.

"It is pretty hazardous to human health. Most fish and shrimps can't thrive in such water," said Wang Hongrui,  professor with the College of Water Sciences at Beijing Normal University.

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