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Read the passage carefully. Then choose the correct answer.
 
The Yellow River is having an unusually good day. So good, in fact, that Yu Songlin, who has spent most of the past five years monitoring the water from the headquarters off the Yellow River Conservancy Commission in Zhengzhou, looks perplexed. Scanning two wall-sized electronic maps showing hydrology stations and reservoirs along the 5464-kilometre waterway, he reads off real-time data on quality and quantity. It is far more positive than he expects, given the river's deserved reputation as an ecological disaster area. From the source high on the Tibetan Plateau, through Qin-ghai, Gansu and most of Ningxia, the red LED figures show pollution is at the second lowest level, which means it is - shockingly - fit to drink with only minimal treatment.

In the industrial blacklands of Inner Mongolia, where the river makes a dirty great northern U-turn, the reading is a more typical five - hazardous to touch. But above average volume and flow-speed, flush the middle reaches along the Shaanxi-Shanxi border down to a moderate three on the scale of five. The water quality then returns to a healthy two at Lijin near the estuary in Shandong. "I almost never see
that. It's usually four," says the young hydro-engineer, who cautions against over-optimism. "The downpour yesterday helped a lot."

Rain is not the only reason why this workhorse waterway is looking slightly less filthy, weak and sickly than the outside world has come to expect. Since the shock of 1997, when the Yellow River failed to reach the sea for 226 days, the government has pumped hundreds of billions of renminbi into China's 'Mother River'. It has attempted to streamline its administration, tightened legislative controls, and initiated one of the biggest hydro-engineering projects in history to share the burden of supporting 140 million people. That this still is not enough shows the immensity of China's water problems and the limited powers of the government to implement policies that curtail demand rather than increase supply.

The Yellow River delta faces four main threats: sediment, flood, drought and pollution. The mixed success of the government's response to these challenges is apparent on a three-day, 400-kilometre drive along the middle and lower reaches in Henan, where the river has historically inflicted its greatest devastation.

The drive starts at the eastern edge of the Loess Plateau, the source of 90 per cent of the annual 1.6 billion tons of sediment that gives the Yellow River its notoriously fierce and fickle character. Centuries of over-cultivation and soil erosion have turned vast swathes of Gansu, Inner Mongolia and Shaanxi into dust bowls. Beijingers feel the consequences every spring when the city is buffeted by sandstorms. The communities, living along the banks of the Yellow River are more likely to suffer in the summer, when the combination of sediment build-up and flood water used to make the river writhe destructively up and down the delta.

However, one of the most expensive but environmentally effective campaigns of the past few decades has been `grain for green'. Under this policy, millions of upper and mid-stream farmers are paid to stop cultivation so the topsoil can recover. It is a major reason why there has been no major flood on the Yellow River for two decades, though this is more commonly attributed to the construction of the huge Xiaolangdi dam in Jiyuan, western Henan. This 1.3-kilometre wide, USD3.5 billion hydroelectric generator has helped to regulate the flow of silt and water.

Pollution is another problem that is far from solved, although there are increasing glimmers of hope. The Yellow River is abused and overused. Last year, China's official Xinhua news agency reported that four billion tons of industrial waste and sewage are discharged annually into the river system, leaving 83 per cent of the water too contaminated to drink without treatment. In 2007, the authorities revealed that a third of the 150 fish species that once swam the murky waters are now extinct and fishermen's catches are down by 60 per cent because of pollution, falling water levels and over-exploitation of the river's resources. Tang Xiyang, one of the founders of the green movement in China, puts the trend in apocalyptic terms: `The Yellow River civilization has been destroyed. People cannot survive on that river anymore.'

More certainly needs to be done and Song Huiran is doing it his way. "I used to swim in the ponds around our village, but they have all dried up," says Song Huiran, who cycles around the region on a one-man conservation campaign. "The water level in the well has fallen by three meters in the past 10 years. During the drought earlier this year, many villages in this area had to ask for a special diversion of water from the Yellow River. Every year we need to take more water to irrigate our crops." The 71-year-old former teacher believes diversions are not the solution. He wants people to take more responsibility. "We all need to save and recycle water. Some villagers think we have plenty of water, enough to last 200 years. I tell them there are shortages across the world. We must do more to save water for future generations."

     
  1. Which word below can best substitute shockingly ?
       
    (A) likely
    (B) incredibly
    (C) undeniably
    (D) undoubtedly
       
  2. In paragraph 2, the hydro-engineer can be described as
       
    (A) careful
    (B) pessimistic
    (C) enthusiastic
    (D) inexperienced
       
  3. Which of the following actions mentioned in paragraph 3 is not effectively carried out by the Chinese government ?
       
    (A) building a dam to increase water supply
    (B) cutting down on the demand for more water
    (C) allocating money to improve the Yellow River
    (D) instituting more laws to deal with water problems
       
  4. The three-day drive taken by the writer ( paragraphs 4 and 5 ) shows
       
    (A) the difficulties in managing the Yellow River
    (B) the extent of damage brought by the Yellow River
    (C) how successfully the government dealt with the problems
    (D) how the communities along the river banks suffered the most
       
  5. In paragraph 6, the writer is of the opinion that paying the farmers not to cultivate is
       
    (A) a praiseworthy strategy
    (B) too expensive a strategy
    (C) better than constructing dams
    (D) the best way to regulate the amount of silt deposited
       
  6. Tang Xiyang ( paragraph 7 ) was quoted to illustrate
       
    (A) the exploitation of the river's resources
    (B) the seriousness of the effects of pollution
    (C) why fishermen's livelihood was badly affected
    (D) that the water was not fit for human consumption
       
  7. The ending of the passage gives the message that
       
    (A) more should be done to help the villagers
    (B) conservation campaigns should be everybody's concern
    (C) the government can be relied on to help out in water emergencies
    (D) diversion of river flow is an effective means to solve water shortage
       
  8. A suitable title for the passage is
       
    (A) Sufferings Brought On by the Yellow River
    (B) The Danger of the Yellow River
    (C) Lessons from the Yellow River
    (D) Managing the Yellow River
       
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  Answers : Not provided
 
 
 
 

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