2008-07-19 14:43:31 GMT 2008-07-19 22:43:31 (Beijing Time) Xinhua English
GUANGZHOU, July 19 (Xinhua) -- About 3,000 people swam across a river in Guangdong Province on Saturday in a move to arouse environmental protection awareness for the major waterway in south China.
The swimmers, including teenagers and elders in their 60s, crossed a 450-meter-wide section of the Pearl River in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong on Saturday afternoon.
Local authorities organized the swimming activity to show the pollution treatment achievement on the country's third longest river, and arouse people's awareness of environmental protection.
A 62-year-old swimmer said the water quality had been improving in recent years and now could match the cleanness when he swam in the river in his childhood.
Jian Wenhao, the activity's chief organizer, said the pollution treatment of the river had been on top of the agenda of the Guangzhou municipal government.
A mass crossing of the river was once held in the 1970s but for many years since then, it had been impossible for a large group of people to swim across it because of heavy industrial and domestic sewage pollution.
Guangdong has spent tens of millions of U.S. dollars curbing the pollution by building sewage treatment centers and shutting down or moving heavily polluting factories.
The 2,200-kilometer Pearl River originates in southwestern Yunnan Province and runs through Guizhou, Guangxi, Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao before it empties into the South China Sea.