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Water Quality at Taihu Lake Much Improved

The water quality at Taihu Lake has "improved significantly" since the blue-green algae outbreak in May, a Wuxi official said Wednesday.

The nitrogen concentration in the lake, which is one of the primary water sources for the city of Wuxi in Jiangsu Province, decreased substantially in the second half of last year, Liu Yaming, director of the Wuxi environmental protection bureau, was quoted by the Xinhua News Agency as saying.

Nitrogen levels at the city's two main water treatment plants, Gonghu and Xiaowanli, fell 69 and 81 percent, respectively, he said.

The bureau said the level of organic contaminants in tap water has been cut by a third, with other pollutants such as ammonia down by as much as 60 percent.

Speaking at the local people's congress Wednesday, Huang Xin, deputy secretary-general of the Wuxi government, said authorities are currently investigating alternative sources of funding to tackle the pollution problem at Taihu Lake, in a bid to reduce the burden on public coffers.

He said the city will also upgrade four sewage treatment plants that deal with 85 percent of the city's wastewater and increase monitoring of all the city's rivers.

But the treatment of water in the lake area will be a "long process", Liu said.

More than one million Wuxi residents suffered water shortages when the lake was hit by a large-scale blue-green algae outbreak last year.

The problem was blamed on the excessive amounts of pollutants discharged into the lake from factories around.

Following the bloom, more than 2,200 small-sized chemical factories were ordered to close.

Hu Xuejuan, a resident of Wuxi , said Wednesday that she had been worried about the quality of the city's drinking water ever since the outbreak in May, when the tap water "smelled foul and was repulsive".

"The situation is changing, but I hope the government can do more to tackle the problem so there will be no more threats in the future," she said.

(China Daily January 17, 2008)

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