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ADB Grants US$96 Mln Loan for Ecological Improvement in N. China Lake

The Asian Development Bank (ADB) will help improve the ecology of Baiyangdian Lake, the largest freshwater lake in north China, with a loan of US$96 million, according to the local government.

The ADB loan will be used to support the efforts of Hebei Province to tackle pollution and promote environmental protection in Baiyangdian Lake, according to the government of Baoding, a city in Hebei on Wednesday.

According to a technical assistance agreement signed between ADB and the Baoding authorities, evaluation of the current environmental situation in the lake will begin on May 8 and will be completed in seven months.

The ADB-funded project has been listed as a key environment protection project in Hebei provincial government's five-year plan that ends in 2010.

Baiyangdian, covers about 366 square kilometers and consists of 143 small lakes. It provides clean fresh water to millions of people in the cities of Beijing and Tianjin and helps balance the local ecology.

Baiyangdian, known as the "Bright pearl of north China", has been haunted by water shortages caused by drought and pollution in recent years.

In March this year, large quantities of fish died in the lake due to serious water pollution.

Currently, the local government has closed 218 enterprises that discharge pollutants into the lake, and diverted 50 million cubic meters of water from nearby reservoirs into Baiyangdian to improve its ecology. Several officials held responsible for the water pollution were sacked.

The water quality in Baiyangdian now is good enough for fish farming, said Gao Jianbo, head of the general office of Anxin county government where Baiyangdian is located.

Anxin county has got the go-ahead from the central government to carry out a sewage treatment project in the Baiyangdian wetland nature reserve.

The project will treat sewage and waste water from local industries and purify the lake water to improve the ecological environment, which will cost about 7.5 million yuan (US$937,500). The project has been included in the country's blueprint to improve water resources along the Haihe River and improve the ecosystem in Baiyangdian Lake.

The Chinese central government early this year earmarked 4 million yuan, or US$500,000, for a water treatment project in Baiyangdian.

The water treatment project will reduce the density of organic pollutants and remove some nutriment and heavy metals contained in the lake water. It is designed to treat 30,000 tons of water daily.

(Xinhua News Agency April 27, 2006)

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