Lake wa­ter cleanup a work in progress

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By CANG WEI in­Wuxi, Jiangsu cang­wei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The wa­ter qual­ity of China’s third-largest fresh­wa­ter lake has been greatly im­proved since a mas­sive al­gae bloom broke out in 2007, but pol­lu­tion man­age­ment re­mains a ma­jor prob­lem, ac­cord­ing to en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion au­thor­i­ties.

Zhang Limin, deputy direc­tor of the Gen­eral Of­fice of Taihu Lake­Wa­ter Pol­lu­tion Pre­ven­tion and Con­trol in Jiangsu prov­ince, said that com­pared with 2013, the num­ber of blue-green al­gae blooms and the al­gae den­sity in the lake both de­creased last year.

Ac­cord­ing to the gen­eral of­fice, all nine wa­ter sources and the wa­ter­works it in­ves­ti­gated last year pro­vided wa­ter with qual­ity that­metor ex­ceed­edthat re­quired by the na­tional stan­dard. A to­tal of 700 mil­lion tons of wa­ter was sup­plied to Jiangsu and neigh­bor­ing prov­inces dur­ing the year.

In 2007, a mas­sive out­break of blue-green al­gae, which mostly re­sulted from the ex­ces­sive runoff from agri­cul­tural fer­til­iz­ers and house­hold clean­ing chem­i­cals, threat­ened tap wa­ter sup­plies to 2 mil­lion res­i­dents in lake­side Wuxi.

Pol­lu­tion at Taihu Lake has at­tracted a lot of at­ten­tion in China since then be­cause of the lake’s lo­ca­tion, its size and the 40 mil­lion peo­ple who live within its wa­ter­shed. The lake cov­ers 2,428 square kilo­me­ters and is lo­cated in the densely pop­u­lated Yangtze River Delta.

The gen­eral of­fice also in­ves­ti­gated 223 busi­nesses around the lake last year, among which 59 were closed for their fail­ure to treat waste­water prop­erly.

Since 2007, the Jiangsu gov­ern­ment has al­lo­cated 2 bil­lion yuan ($318 mil­lion) ev­ery year to man­age wa­ter pol­lu­tion in the lake. Wuxi also part­ners with other lake­side cities, in­clud­ing Suzhou and Changzhou, to carry out pol­lu­tion con­trol meth­ods.

Yix­ing, a county-level city un­der the ju­ris­dic­tion ofWuxi, has in­vested more than 5 bil­lion yuan to com­plete a sewage col­lec­tion and dis­posal sys­tem and a garbage treat­ment sys­tem that serves the whole city. It has also closed about 600 chem­i­cal fac­to­ries and busi­nesses and more than 400 glazed tile en­ter­prises.

Zhu Tiejun, direc­tor of the pro­vin­cial Gen­eral Of­fice of Taihu Lake Wa­ter Pol­lu­tion Pre­ven­tion and Con­trol, said that due to the large num­ber of busi­nesses and the large pop­u­la­tion around the lake, the industrial waste­water and sewage dis­charged into the lake is still a ma­jor prob­lem.

“It’s com­mon that the wa­ter treated by the fac­to­ries can­not meet the na­tional stan­dard when it’s dis­charged into the lake,” Zhu said.

The many live­stock and poul­try farms around the lake have also be­come a sig­nif­i­cant source of pol­lu­tion.

Ac­cord­ing to Zhang, the sewage from the live­stock farms equals that of 6.4 mil­lion pigs. One pig pro­duces seven times more sewage than a hu­man be­ing, so the sewage dis­charged into the lake equals that gen­er­ated by more than 40 mil­lion peo­ple.

How­ever, the lo­cal gov­ern­ments can­not close the farms be­cause they say they can­not af­ford to pay the farm­ers for do­ing so.

“To close the farms, lo­cal gov­ern­ments must com­pen­sate the farm­ers,” said Wang Yunx­ian, direc­tor of the Changzhou branch of the gen­eral of­fice. “It’s their source of in­come and how they sup­port their fam­i­lies. Lo­cal gov­ern­ments can­not af­ford com­pen­sa­tion to the farm­ers.”

Ac­cord­ing to the Yix­ing gov­ern­ment, it paid 100 mil­lion yuan last year to close the farms around just one river that flows into the lake.

Zhu added that some lo­cal gov­ern­ments are re­luc­tant to close busi­nesses or farms be­cause of the im­pact it would have on eco­nomic devel­op­ment in the area.

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