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Taihu water quality better: Official
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The water quality of Taihu Lake has generally improved thanks to pollution control measures over the last two years, Luo Zhijun, governor of Jiangsu, said at the second session of the 11th provincial people's congress last Thursday.

Efforts have been made to treat and cut pollution discharge into the lake, the third largest freshwater lake in China, which has witnessed massive outbreaks of blue-green algae.

One such outbreak disrupted water supplies to one million residents of Wuxi in 2007.

Thirty-seven of the 53 river boundary sections within Taihu Lake put under national standard assessment have now met the water quality standard, according to figures from the provincial environmental protection bureau. This is up by 13.2 percent year-on-year.

A bureau-released target plan hopes to make all 53 sections reach the standard by the end of this year.

The idea is to reduce the discharge of nitrogen, ammonia and phosphorous by 5 percent.

Luo said Jiangsu would increase efforts to treat pollutants, accelerate industrial restructuring and promote the environment compensation mechanism to reach the target.

The mechanism, introduced in the province last year, stipulates that cities on the upper reaches of Taihu must compensate their neighbors in the lower reaches if their pollutant discharge exceeds the maximum limit.

"The mechanism makes clear who is responsible for the excessive discharge of pollutants, and in turn, would encourage the reduction of pollution by imposing compensation payments," said Chen Jianping, director of Pollution Control Department of Wuxi's environmental protection bureau.

In the first round of compensation, provincial capital Nanjing paid 18,000 yuan (US$2,600) to the city of Changzhou, which in turn paid 180,000 yuan to Wuxi on the lower reaches of the lake.

Wuxi is also promoting the compensation system within its own waterways, according to Chen.

Apart from compensation, other measures too are at work.

Some 4,326 small factories have been shut down across the province in the last two years, according to figures from the provincial work team on the renovation of chemical companies.

Authorities are also paying attention to the control and treatment of rural pollution.

Luo cited treatment of sewage and waste, utilization of animal excrement and controlled use of chemicals and pesticides as some of the measures for improving rural environments in the province.

(China Daily February 9, 2009)

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