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Lifeblood of a city: safeguarding Wuxi's drinking water
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the current intake pipe to draw water from the Taihu Lake

Last spring, Wuxi City was at the eye of a media storm when blue-green algae infested nearby Taihu Lake and contaminated the city’s water supply. But the Wuxi Water Corporation is taking measures to ensure last year’s crisis will never happen again.

The algae outbreak devastated Taihu, China’s third largest freshwater lake, and polluted tap water in Wuxi. The authorities were criticized for their slow response to the crisis.

“The water in the lake turned black and the stench almost choked us,” Mr. Sang, the head of Nanquan Water Intake Plant told China.org.cn, recalling last year’s emergency. The Nanquan plant draws 1 million tons of water each day from the lake and is the largest supplier of water to Wuxi.

With the support of the central and local governments who have undertaken concerted efforts to clean up the lake, the plant has taken measures to improve the quality of water taken from the lake.

A colossal project which started at the end of last year and is expected to complete in June is constructing two new intake pipes that extend 3 km from the shore to the middle of the lake. The pipes will ensure clean and safe drinking water by avoiding algae-contaminated areas around the shores.

mesh screens installed to prevent larger debris and dirty

“We have completed the bulk of the work. Our staff are working hard to complete it as soon as possible,” said Mr. Sang.

“The water corporation is trying to raise money to make sure the project financially viable,” he stated. He also added that the corporation was considering a bond issue but gave no further details.

Another important project to safeguard Wuxi’s water supply is a new intake system to take water from the Yangtze River. The 2.4 billion yuan project completed on March 30 and will draw 400,000 tons of water a day, ensuring a reliable supply in the worst-case scenario of a renewed algae outburst this year.

(China.org.cn by staff reporter He Shan, April 9, 2008)

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