The Chinese government has set a timetable for control of the country's pollution-plagued lakes, aiming to restore them to their original state by 2030.
In a circular issued Tuesday on enhancing water protection in major lakes, the General Office of the State Council said that by 2010, the aggravation of pollution in major lakes must be curbed and water quality improved.
The country's major lakes - Taihu, Chaohu and Dianchi, which are water sources for millions, have been contaminated by algae blooms, which eat up oxygen in water which in turn leads to the deaths of water creatures and makes the water undrinkable.
Other major areas involved include Xiaolangdi Reservoir in the lower reaches of the Yellow River, the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, and Danjiangkou Reservoir in central China's Hubei Province.
To mitigate environment pressure, local governments around major lakes were ordered to beef up the elimination of factories with backward production measures that lead to serious pollution, such as paper making, printing and dyeing, tanneries, breweries, and various chemical industries.
By the end of this year, all qualified companies in the areas should be issued with sewage discharge licenses, the circular said. Those who dump waste water containing excessive levels of pollutants were asked to improve their waste treatment facilities by the end of June.
If their waste water still does not meet the required standards by the deadline, they would risk suspension or shutting down.
The State Council asked local governments to install nitrogen and phosphorus removal facilities in newly-built or half-built sewage treatment plants to ensure first-grade water emission standards.
Existing plants must also install nitrogen and phosphorus removal facilities by the end of 2010, according to the circular.
The central government also banned the sale and usage of detergents containing phosphorus, as well as the use of pesticide with highly toxic residue in areas surrounding major lakes.
The circular also ordered all fish farms to be removed from the three lake areas by the end of 2008, and to decrease farming areas to the prescribed areas in other lakes in the country in three years.
All About Lake pollution, Drinking water(Xinhua News Agency January 23, 2008)