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Burst pipes a sign of aging infrastructure

[ 2010-11-24 13:03]     字号 [] [] []  
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The second burst water pipe in Zhengzhou in a week has exposed the hidden problems of decades-old underground infrastructure in many cities across the country, experts have said.

In the second incident, the water supply for a million residents in the capital city of Central China's Henan province resumed on Tuesday morning, less than a day after a burst pipe forced a water plant to halt operations.

A major pipe of the Zhongfayuanshui water plant burst at 1:07 pm on Monday in northern Zhengzhou, leading to the closing down of the water pump and the cutting off of supply in the northern part of the city, according to a statement from the Zhengzhou Water Supply Corporation.

By Tuesday noon, water supplies had resumed in most parts of the city, except for a residential area of about 200 households, where the broken main was located.

A local resident surnamed Zhao, whose home still had no tap water running on Tuesday, said she had no idea when the supply would resume.

"There is still no water at home. I slept in a hotel last night. Tonight I'm staying at my husband's office," she said, adding that she and her neighbors were asked to evacuate their homes on Monday night.

The corporation said the interruption of supply was mainly due to the aging water pipe and the change of season.

"The broken main is more than 30 years old and is deteriorating. Besides, winter is coming and the increased temperature differences between day and night mean that the mains and pipes are liable to burst," the statement said.

The corporation also cited the rapid growth of the local population and the addition of many tall buildings as factors leading to strains on infrastructure through overuse.

The first incident occurred on Nov 17, when a water main near the Shiyuan water plant, the city's largest, burst, damaging a 10-meter section of the pipeline and temporarily cutting off water supply for 800,000 residents in the west of the city.

According to data from the Zhengzhou Water Supply Corporation, the complete water supply pipeline in the city is more than 2,400 km long.

During the past five years, the city government has spent 40 million yuan ($6 million) annually in improving the system. By this year, it had upgraded 300 km of pipelines.

Jiang Zhongguang, a professor at Beijing University of Civil Engineering and Architecture, said that many cities in China, especially the old ones, share the same problem with Zhengzhou.

Figures from the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development show that in 2006 about 37 percent of all city water pipes across the country were aging noticeably. Many of them were laid more than 50 years ago.

"Basic facilities, especially those under the ground such as water and gas pipes, affect the life and safety of everyone. Their maintenance deserves high attention," Jiang said.


1. How old was the pipe that burst?

2. What factors have strained infrastructure?

3. How much money has the Zhengzhou city government spent per year on upgrading pipe systems?


1. 30 years.

2. increase in tall buildings and population.

3. 40 million yuan.


(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Burst pipes a sign of aging infrastructure

Burst pipes a sign of aging infrastructure

Todd Balazovic is a reporter for the Metro Section of China Daily. Born in Mineapolis Minnesota in the US, he graduated from Central Michigan University and has worked for the China Daily for one year.