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August 1, 2009

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Anti-flooding measures to be speeded up

EFFORTS to improve the local drainage network will be intensified after the end of the year when many World Expo-related construction projects come to an end, water bureau officials said yesterday.

The flood-control authorities were again inundated with complaints from residents after Thursday's rainstorm which flooded more than 70 streets.

Residents said it recalled August 25 last year when there was serious flooding across town, and they blamed the authorities for making little improvement in flood-control measures.

However, Shanghai Water Affairs Bureau officials insisted their efforts over the past year to make streets more able to resist flooding had paid off.

"Water drained from the flooded streets much more quickly on Thursday compared to the situation during the similar stormy rain last August," Ma Yuandong, director of Shanghai Water Affairs Bureau's Water Drainage Office, told reporters yesterday.

He said the local government had increased investment to streamline anti-flood systems citywide, especially in spots most vulnerable to heavy rainfall, since last August. Some 200 million yuan (US$29 million) would have been spent on such projects by the end of the year.

"Due to the extensive construction projects being carried out across the city at the same time now, it's difficult to replace the old and small drainage pipes with larger ones in large quantities or very quickly," Ma said.

And the lack of available land in downtown areas also makes it difficult to set up new pump stations to help with flood draining, he said.

Ma said the bureau had been carrying out improvement by all possible approaches since last year, such as sending more workers to maintain drainage pipes during the night and replace insufficient facilities wherever possible. Forty of 51 local streets with inadequate sewage support have been improved this year.

"The improvement did lead to a change, but just not so noticeable maybe to the public," Ma said.

The rain hit downtown at around noon on Thursday and by about 4pm, Hongqiao Road, one of the most heavily affected, had been cleared of water. On August 25 last year, it took 12 hours for the flood to drain away.

Thursday's rain was measured at 139.8 millimeters per hour at its peak. Such a downpour would be expected in Shanghai just once every 70 years, the bureau said.


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