Arakawa River in Fukushima city given top water quality rating for 12th straight year

Photo: The Arakawa River in Fukushima city, which has been given the top water quality rating in Japan for the 12th year in a row, is shown in this photo taken on June 20.

The Arakawa River in Fukushima city has received the top water quality rating among Japan's "Class-A" rivers for the 12th straight year, according to the results of an annual survey announced on July 7 by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism. It was one of two rivers given the top rating for a 12th consecutive year or more among the 159 rivers covered by the nationwide survey. "Very happy," says local group leader Sasaki The survey was based on the annual average levels of biochemical oxygen demand (BOD), an indicator of water pollution levels. The Arakawa River had 0.5 milligram of BOD per liter of water -- the minimum pollution level required by the Environment Ministry for reporting to relevant authorities. Of the rivers surveyed, 12 in nine prefectures received the top water quality rating, including the Kawabe River in Kumamoto Prefecture that was in the top category for the 16th successive year, the longest on record. A group of residents in Fukushima city has long voluntarily engaged in cleanup activities in areas along the Arakawa River. The group, which calls itself the council for grooming the hometown river Arakawa, organizes what it describes as "great Arakawa cleanup operations" every year. Staff members of local businesses and residents of the city and neighboring areas join the campaign, mowing grass and collecting litter on the riverbanks and the riverbed in an effort to protect the environment along the river and maintain its water quality. "It's very happy news," said Hideaki Sasaki, leader of the group. "We would like to continue our activities to conserve the nature of the Arakawa River, which is familiar to many people in our city and close to their lives." Fukushima Mayor Hiroshi Kohata said the results of the latest government survey were due largely to the "constant and diligent efforts to help improve the river's water quality" of people in local communities. He added the outcome would encourage the municipal government to move forward with promoting "exchange activities at the level of regional communities as well as our town-building." (Translated by Kyodo News)