The capital of northeast China's Heilongjiang Province plans to invest 3.4 billion yuan (415 millon US dollars) in exploring new sources of drinking water along a branch of Songhuajiang River from this April.
An officer in Harbin planning commission said a new water plant would be constructed on the upper reaches of the Lalin River, 170 kilometers from the city, to take the place of the present water source, the Songhua River, known locally as the "Mother River."
The central and provincial governments had approved the project and would offer financial aid and policy support. Part of the investment would also come from the Asian Development Bank and an Italian company.
As the largest infrastructure plan in Harbin, the project is expected to be completed before 2010, said Zeng Xiaohui, of the corporation responsible for the project.
The new source is expected to provide drinking water for more than three million residents of Harbin, as well as for agriculture and environmental purposes.
The upper reaches of the Lalin River had plenty of rainfall each year and were covered with vast forests that ensured the water quality, said Zeng.
Due to industrial pollution and the overuse of water, the Songhua can barely provide adequate drinking water for Harbin, which is the most populous city on its banks. It is estimated the city needs an extra 320,000 cubic meters of drinking water daily.
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