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China Begins to Clean up Polluted Lake

The scenic city of Suzhou in southern Jiangsu province, east China, has started its biggest ever project to clean up Lake Taihu, the country's third biggest lake.

Local environmental officials said that more than 3.7 million cubic meters of silt will be dredged, involving some 2.38 million square meters of water surface.

The silting had resulted in an excessive accumulation of nutrients, an ecological catastrophe as float weeds threaten to choke the lake, the officials said.

The silt removed from the lake is expected to raise the ground levels within 80 meters of the embankments, helping to prevent polluted water from flowing into the lake.

The raised ground levels will be used to grow flowers and trees, as part of the effort to absorb some phosphorus, the leading nutrient from the lake silt.

Farm run-off and the use of washing powder containing phosphorus represent two major sources of the main nutrient, according to experts.

Local governments have called on residents in the area to use phosphorus-free washing powder.

Pollution of Taihu Lake

The 2,300-square-km Taihu Lake, vastly located in Jiangsu, is the source of drinking water for 40 million residents around and people in neighboring Shanghai and Zhejiang.

However, the lake, previously dubbed as "a pearl of the Yangtze River delta," has been heavily polluted by industrial waste, untreated sewage, pesticide and fertilizer since the 1980s.

Nitrogen and phosphorus discharged into the lake have caused overgrowth of algae, further deteriorating the water quality.

(People's Daily May 13, 2002)

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