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Jiangsu Vows to Clean Up Taihu Lake
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Local officials in east China's Jiangsu Province, the location of a recent water pollution scare, put on record their promises to clean up Taihu Lake by closing small, environmentally damaging manufacturing plants.

A provincial meeting on Saturday announced they had launched a comprehensive investigation of businesses on Taihu Lake, ranging from chemical, pharmaceutical, metallurgical, printing and dyeing, and paper making industries to electroplating services.

A total of 2,150 small chemical firms will be eliminated by the end of 2008, according to the report. Participants at the meeting also said they were determined to introduce a host of other measures to eradicate water pollution from Taihu Lake over a period of 15 years.

Jiangsu will encourage industries featuring high technology, high efficiency, low energy consumption, and less pollution and raise the proportion of service companies and high-tech ventures. The province will also adopt a strict environmental access system and deny access to businesses that use obsolete technologies and equipment, or cause serious pollution. Areas that have breached pollution control limits will be refused approval to launch new projects involving the discharge of pollutants.

In addition to banning all new projects involving nitrogen and phosphorous discharges, the province will also implement stricter water pollution control standards in the Taihu Lake drainage area in order to force firms dotted around the lake to improve pollution treatment facilities and reduce discharges.

The province will improve sewage treatment capacities in cities surrounding the lake area and promote centralized treatment of sewage and trash in rural areas. One of the most densely populated regions in China, the Taihu Lake drainage area receives 56 billion tons of sewage discharge each year.

Jiangsu, which raised pollutant discharge levies beginning July 1, is also considering setting aside funds to support key water pollution treatment projects in Taihu Lake. Cities and counties in the lake drainage area are required to increase funding for treatment of water pollution in Taihu Lake.

About 30 million people rely on Taihu Lake, China's third largest freshwater lake, for drinking water, including nine cities in the provinces of Jiangsu and Zhejiang as well as Shanghai Municipality.

A severe algae outbreak at the end of May rendered tap water undrinkable over the course of a week for half of the 2.3 million residents in Wuxi, a city in eastern Jiangsu Province.

By mid-June, a second algae bloom appeared in the central-western and northern parts of the lake, covering 800 square kilometers and causing widespread concern in cities around the lake.

High levels of nitrogen and phosphorus are believed to be major causes of algae blooms, which develop in water that is rich in nutrients.

Apart from Taihu Lake, blue-green algae outbreaks have been reported in Chaohu Lake and southwestern Dianchi Lake since May, and have threatened the local tap water supply.

(Xinhua News Agency July 9, 2007)

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