Taihu an example of pollution control
Being the third largest freshwater lake in China with an area of about 2,340 square kilometres, Taihu Lake is a major source of drinking water for people living in the Shanghai Municipality and East China's Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, all booming areas in East China.
However, by 2001 water in the lake had been seriously polluted by pollutants discharged by local industries and people living in the area.
That year, a pollution control plan was developed for the Taihu Lake region.
Since then, more than 100 printing, dyeing and chemical plants in Jiangsu have been shut down, said Xie Zhenhua, minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration, Sunday, during a national conference on water pollution control in Wuxi, Jiangsu.
Meanwhile, authorities have shut down or stopped pulp production lines of 14 paper mills and helped another five large mills develop more environmentally friendly advanced techniques.
Therefore, the paper output of the province has grow 10 times while the discharge of pollutants has dropped by 50 per cent.
According to Shi Zhenhua, head of the Jiangsu Environmental Protection Bureau, 92 per cent of the projects in the province designed for pollution control in Taihu Lake have been started and the rest will be launched within the first half of the year.
Nearly 60 per cent of the projects are completed and put into use, he said, adding that the goals set for pollution control in the lake have been basically reached.
Xie said by 2005, sewage treatment plants in the Taihu Lake region will have a capacity of 2.17 million tons of sewage per day, nearly 30 per cent more than the 1.67 million tons per day required by the 10th Five-Year Plan (2001-05).
Both government officials and experts believe the success in Taihu Lake is a direct result of market practices.
Shi said in 2000, construction of the province's sewage treatment plants around the lake were almost stopped because of low charges for sewage treatment.
In 2002, Jiangsu raised sewage treatment charges. Currently the price is 1.1 yuan (13 US cents) per cubic metre. Before 2002, the price was only half of that.
Low charges for sewage treatment in China have been a hurdle for water pollution control.
Even in some rich places such as Xiamen in East China's Fujian Province, the price for treating a cubic metre of sewage is only about 0.2 yuan (2.4 US cents).
Sources with the pollution control department of the State Environmental Protection Administration said that is the reason why many sewage treatment plants in the country are not put into use.