Jun 05, 2007

Algae Crisis in China Causes Drinking Water Problems

An algae outbreak in the Taihu Lake has affected the drinking water of about two million residents in east China. As a result, local authorities have pledged to put more of an investment in sewage treatment and threaten polluting factories with closure.

Liu Hongzhi, vice mayor of Wuxi city in Jiangsu Province reported to The Ministry of Water Resources that the city will monitor 22 key polluting companies and another 502 factories will need to be licensed to discharge waste.

A bloom of algae in Taihu Lake caused the tap water supply to the city with a population of two million to be cut for days. The algae resulted from persistent water pollution stemming from industrial and household sewage.

Liu also stated that new projects in the chemical, printing and dyeing and melting sectors in the downtown of Wuxi will no longer be allowed, and pledged that treatment of water pollution in Taihu Lake would account for three percent of the city's gross domestic product in 2010.

In Changzhou city, which has two rivers leading into Taihu Lake, 82 printing and dyeing, pharmaceutical and chemical plants have been ordered to halt the discharge of waste and limits on the amounts of waste were imposed on 18 other factories.

The dyeing and pharmaceutical plants who can not meet the waste discharge standards will be asked to cut their capacity by half, according to an emergency meeting of the Wujin District of Changzhou.

The Ministry of Water Resources reports that the tap water supply for Wuxi city was halted on May 22, when its major source, Taihu Lake, started to stink from a blue-green algae bloom. About 259 million cubic meters of water were diverted from the Yangtze River to dilute the lake.