Premier orders investigation of algae crisis

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-06-12 06:58

WUXI: Premier Wen Jiabao has demanded a thorough investigation of the Taihu Lake crisis, which has affected the drinking water supply of about 2 million people.

Efforts to protect the lake from further pollution are also to be scrutinized.

"The pollution of Taihu Lake has sounded the alarm for us," Wen said in a directive to a symposium held by the State Council here yesterday.

Taihu Lake, which was once a scenic attraction famous for its aquatic life, including shrimp, lily and water chestnuts, has been heavily polluted by industrial, agricultural and domestic waste.

Wen said efforts had been made to reduce pollution in Taihu Lake in recent years. "But the problem has never been tackled at the root," he added.

He asked participants in the symposium, including officials from central and local governments, environmental workers, scholars and researchers, to thoroughly investigate the Taihu Lake crisis so that concrete measures could be drawn up in response.

Vice-Premier Zeng Peiyan, who attended the symposium, told governments at all levels to work to prevent algae blooms and ensure the safety of drinking water.

Zeng asked local governments to continue collecting the blue-green algae, intensify monitoring of water quality, ensure the water supply and divert more water from the Yangtze River to flush out the pollution.

He also asked environmental watchdogs to strengthen supervision and punish factories that discharge pollutants into Taihu Lake.

At the meeting, all towns around Taihu were ordered to establish sewage treatment plants. Chemical factories will have to meet a new water emissions standard by the end of June next year.

Towns must set up sewage treatment plants and are forbidden from discharging untreated sewage into Taihu Lake or rivers in the Taihu valley. Existing plants must install nitrogen and phosphorus removal facilities before the deadline, according to the plan announced at the meeting.

Chemical factories that fail to meet the new water emissions standard risk suspension. They will be shut down permanently if they fail to meet the standard by the end of next June.

The new water emission standard for the Taihu area will raise the bar for sulfur dioxide emissions and chemical oxygen demand.

China Daily-Xinhua

(China Daily 06/12/2007 page4)

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