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May 30, 2010

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Swiss cities cleaning up

A CONCERT featuring the sound of water -- from gentle waterfalls to violent storms -- attracted a large crowd yesterday as Basel, Geneva and Zurich celebrated their Joint Cities Day.

The Basel-Geneva-Zurich Pavilion in the Urban Best Practices Area features its excellent water management over many years.

Switzerland's three largest cities all enjoy great water resources -- Basel is on the River Rhine while Zurich and Geneva give their names to the lakes where they are situated.

That's why they decided to work on a joint pavilion with the theme of "Better Water -- Best Urban Life"

Swimming in lakes, drinking clean water straight from the tap and magnificent water fountains -- all things that exemplify the great urban life in the three cities, thanks to excellent water management, according to Manuel Tornare, the mayor of Geneva.

All three cities experienced hard times with severe water pollution last century when industrial factories discharged dirty water directly into rivers and lakes.

Lake Geneva was once a "dead lake" -- its water unable to sustain most forms of aquatic life.

But with proper water management, such as connecting every household and factory to waste water treatment plants, calling on public awareness and imposing severe punishment for discharging polluted water, the water quality in the three cities greatly improved. The Rhine, Lake Zurich and Lake Geneva are now major drinking water resources for the residents there.

"A clean water resource is an essential part of good urban life. The cases of Basel, Geneva and Zurich have proved that economic development can co-exist with clean water," said Corine Mauch, mayor of Zurich. "Adopting a positive attitude and being aware of the responsibility to adopt a sustainable lifestyle can help us cope with the problems."

Tornare said the three cities were eager to share their experience in water management in the pavilion to help other cities.

Basel will sign a new memorandum of understanding with Shanghai in August. The cities entered a formal partnership in 2007.

The Basel Symphony Orchestra will perform at the Shanghai Concert Hall on August 11 in celebration.

A fountain to be placed in the Butterfly Bay Park in Jing'an District will also mark the occasion.


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