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Strict River Chief Policy Issued to Protect the Three Gorges Reservoir Area

By ZHAN CHENICHONGQING|Apr 23,2022

Chongqing- Southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality published the No.4 municipal river chief policy with a series of tasks to manage water pollution and improve water quality on April 11. With the former 3 policies, these measures share the same goal of rectifying the rivers’ problems, particularly in protecting the Three Gorges Reservoir area and the Yangtze River.

Since 2019, Chongqing has issued three municipal river chief policies in consecutive years, highlighting the significant problems of rivers. And the implementation of policies has notably promoted the whole city’s water environment.  More than 300,000 sites and 8,000 issues have been checked and rectified accumulatively in these three years, said Zhang Xuefeng, Chongqing Water Resources Bureau director. 

The No. 4 municipal river chief policy could be considered an upgrade of the previous ones. This year, the approach emphasizes the leading role of the river chief in finding problems and solutions, regarding the investigation and trial solving as the primary task of the river chief in performing his duties. 

The view of the Yudai River mine after the comprehensive ecological restoration in Rongchang District, Chongqing. (Photo/Chongqing Municipal Bureau of Planning and Natural Resources)

Problem-oriented approach

From Zhang, the people’s needs for the river ecological environment have been transformed into high-quality water resources, healthy water ecology, and a livable water environment in the new era. 

To this end, the No.4 municipal river chief policy requires all departments to fulfill their river management and protection responsibilities. The river chief is the first person responsible according to the procedure. Moreover, the policy calls for integrated thinking of the river ecosystem and a problem-oriented approach to promote the river chief system.

By the end of 2025, the new urban sewage treatment capacity will be increased by 1.2 million tons per day. The overall proportion of important river shoreline protection areas and reserved areas will reach more than 50%, and the city’s level 5 river embankment compliance rate will get 88%, shows the policy. 

Expand to Small and micro water bodies

Since the river chief system has been carried out in Chongqing, the water ecological environment of the city’s rivers has been continuously improved, and the water ecological functions have been gradually restored.

However, it has also been plagued by the chaos of sewage, garbage dump, and river encroachment in some secondary and tertiary tributaries. The management and protection of small and micro water bodies in rural areas are relatively arduous, such as ditches, pits, and dams. 

A worker is collecting the trash on the river. (iChongqing file photo)

Zhang pointed out that this year is crucial for consolidating poverty alleviation and rural revitalization. Promoting the water environment of tributaries and rural small and micro water bodies is fundamental to improving the rural areas’ living environment and building beautiful livable villages.

Therefore, we expand the investigation to tributaries, rural small and micro water bodies, deepen precise remediation to every detail, and facilitate urban and rural water ecology, he said. 

A media exposure mechanism

While issuing the No.4 municipal river chief policy, Chongqing established a series of safeguard measures to ensure the order’s implementation. Zhang explained that they would explore establishing a media exposure mechanism this year and evaluating the river chief’s performance.

Besides, the support of science and technology and the participation of the whole people are necessary means to ensure the effective management and protection of rivers.

This year, the Chongqing Water Authority plans to realize the linkage between intelligent management and the nationwide popularization of river protection. It targets all sorts of problem-solving of rivers relying on the intelligent systems of water environment management, smart fishery administration, smart river chief, and others. 

(Wang Yuxuan, as an intern, also contributed to this report.)

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