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Blue-green Algae Appears in Taihu Lake Again

Blue-green algae has returned to eastern China's Taihu Lake earlier than usual. People living around the freshwater lake are now living under the threat of polluted water.

The algae outbreaks usually take place in May or June, but an employee of a water quality monitoring station in Huzhou said they returned ahead of schedule this year, Web site reported.

In Huzhou, a young farmer surnamed Yang told reporters that local residents are accustomed to the annual algae blooms.

"The situation is not too bad now. But in July or August, when the algae dies from high temperatures, people can hardly bear the stinking water," Yang said.

He complained that fish are difficult to catch in Taihu Lake now. If there are any fish to be had, they aren't as tasty as those caught in the rivers.

Another local surnamed Jiang shares the same opinion. Jiang used to make a living through fishing. However, the algae outbreaks forced him to seek another livelihood after many fish died from lack of oxygen in the thick algae strands last year.

Jiang worries that the situation will become worse this year. In the freezing season last year, people couldn't see algae on the water's surface. Things were different this winter. A dead branch was stained green after a reporter dipped it in the lake, and stones on the banks have turned green from algae build-up.

The local government banned fishing between February 1 and August 30 to protect fish resources in Taihu Lake, but the catch during fishing season was still quite small.

Neither fish nor people can thrive on water from Taihu Lake. Grandma Wu's family drilled a well for drinking water. Other villagers rely on mountain streams. Wu said water flowing down from the mountains tastes better than lake water.

A villager surnamed Li is worried about his business too, though he is not a fisherman. He opened a small restaurant by the lake a few years ago. Many past customers came in especially for the fish and shrimp caught in the lake, but now they will lose their appetite as soon as they see the stained water, Li said.

( April 22, 2008)

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