Tighter waste standards set for algae-hit lake

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 October, 2007, 12:00am

Jiangsu province is to introduce a tougher waste-release standard to clean up heavily polluted Lake Tai where an algae bloom forced a suspension of tap water for millions of people this summer.

The standard, to take effect next year, sets pollutant quotas for sewage-treatment plants and major factories around the lake, Xinhua reported.

The new regime dramatically cuts the amount of pollutants allowed to be discharged into the lake with chemical oxygen demand (COD) cut by 28.3 per cent, ammonia-nitrogen by 66.7 per cent and overall phosphorus by 50 per cent. The permitted COD density for textile and dyeing industries has been cut from 100 milligrams per litre to 60 and the density of ammonia-nitrogen from 15 milligrams per litre to five.

Urban sewage-treatment plants will see COD density dropped to 50 milligrams per litre.

The new standard, in line with the international standards, will force a third of factories near the lake to close or suspend operations.

The upgraded standard is part of the government's campaign to treat pollution of Lake Tai, China's third largest freshwater lake.

Sitting in an area traditionally known for production of fish and rice and once a popular tourist attraction, the lake is now heavily polluted after years of having untreated sewage and chemicals from nearby factories dumped into it.

In May a fetid algal coating appeared on the lake which is a source of drinking water for 2.3 million residents in Wuxi . The supply was cut off for several days, prompting officials including Premier Wen Jiabao to pledge a cleanup.

Since then, more than 1,000 petrochemical plants in the cities of Wuxi, Suzhou and Changzhou have closed and 1,600 more factories have been slated to be shut down over the next two years.

On Friday, Jiangsu's environmental protection agency announced that the government planned to spend 108.5 billion yuan on improving the quality of the water in the lake and its tributaries.

'The plan will control the eutrophication of Lake Tai in five years and realise a clear improvement in water quality. In another eight to 10 years, the problem of Lake Tai water pollution will basically be resolved,' the government statement said.

Lake Chao in eastern China and Lake Dianchi near Kunming , Yunnan, also reported outbreak of algae this summer, highlighting the nationwide problem of worsening water pollution. Government figures showed more than 70 per cent of China's waterways and 90 per cent of its underground water are contaminated.

Separately, the government will inject 28 million yuan into protecting the ecological environment near Lake Manasarovar in Tibet , China's highest freshwater lake, and sacred Mount Kailash, Xinhua reported.

Citing a local county official, the report said the project would protect 200 hectares of wetland near the lake and the mountain after an influx of tourists, and build a refuse-burying site.



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