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Water Safety Put Ahead of GDP
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The top leader of East China's Jiangsu Province has vowed to introduce strict no -compromise measures to curb water pollution at Taihu Lake, even if doing so slows economic growth.


Li Yuanchao, secretary of Jiangsu Provincial Committee of the Communist Party of China, said only by introducing the strictest environmental protection measures can the water quality in the lake be significantly improved within five years.


The goal requires more resolute measures, stronger action and stricter standards, Li said at a conference on tackling water pollution in Taihu in Wuxi on Saturday.


Since May, a massive blue-green algae outbreak has blanketed the eastern part of the lake, endangering local tap water supplies for a week.


Li told the meeting that the measures must be strictly implemented even if they caused a 15 percent downturn in the province's gross domestic product.


The cities of Suzhou, Wuxi and Changzhou - the economic engines surrounding Taihu Lake - would be most affected.


"This is the price we have to pay if we want to prevent bigger damage to our future generations," Li said.


Emergency measures to be implemented include transferring water from nearby rivers into the lake.


The provincial government has made it clear the local environmental protection bureau would be in charge of pollution control and water treatment, and the water resources department would deal with water protection and algae control.


The treatment of Taihu Lake will be added into officials' appraisal systems.


In the Taihu area, textile, chemical, metallurgy, paper-making, electroplate and brewing are pillar industries and have emitted large amounts of ammonia and nitrogen into the Yangtze River Delta.


Li said polluting factories must be shut down.


Under tougher guidelines, the region's industry will have to follow stricter operational protocols with less emissions and be more energy efficient.


Projects that do not meet the standards will not be given approval to launch.


Taihu Lake is the third-largest freshwater lake in China and located in the highly developed and densely populated Yangtze River Delta.


To prevent further problems with water supplies, the use and sale of detergent with phosphor will be banned. The quality of 11 large-scale tap water resources around the lake will be strengthened to ensure the tap water safety.


(China Daily July 9, 2007)

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