China / Society

Experts look to clean up Chaohu Lake

By Zhu Lixin in Hefei ( Updated: 2014-02-28 21:00

Experts look to clean up Chaohu Lake

Matthew Forbes, the Shanghai-based deputy consul general of the UK, speaks at the UK-China (Hefei) Chaohu Lake Water Environment Seminar in Hefei on Friday. Photo by Zhu Lixin

Experts on freshwater lakes from Britain and China gathered in Hefei, Anhui province, on Friday, to discuss how to better protect lake resources.

The UK-China (Hefei) Chaohu Lake Water Environment Seminar, which included dozens of top experts in freshwater protection, focused on Chaohu Lake, which lies near the provincial capital.

The lake, fed by 13,000 square kilometers of watershed, is the fifth-largest freshwater lake - and one of the most seriously polluted ones - in China.

As the Chinese governments at multiple levels vow to improve the country's water security, various measures have been taken to curb pollution of the lake, which has haunted the city with repeated outbreaks of blue-green algae in spring and summer.

After years of efforts, much of the problem has been mitigated, but the local government wants to get rid of it entirely as the city emerges as a rapidly growing metropolis.

"We can all learn how the government rises to meet the challenges and I'm confident that the UK is a key partner," said Matthew Forbes, the Shanghai-based deputy consul general of the UK, at the seminar.

One of his Chinese counterparts echoed that theme: "The Thames is now considered one of the cleanest rivers in the world, after catastrophic pollution during the UK's industrialization and urbanization in the 19th century. So we hope that the experts from UK can share their experience with us for a greener Hefei," said Gao Binyou, deputy secretary-general of the Hefei city government.

In recent years, Hefei has spent billions of yuan on pollution-curbing projects around the lake, including the one to get the backwater running by digging out a water corridor connecting the Yangtze River and the lake.

"Hefei has the ambition to improve the status of the lake, which is matched by the scale of challenges it faces today," Forbes said.

As a major industrial transfer center, Hefei is expected to see sewage increase by 30 percent from 2010 levels by 2015, while the urbanization rate around Chaohu Lake may hit 55 percent by then.

"The most effective measure, I think, is to cut the output of sewage water rather than get the water running," said Kong Fanxiang, a lake expert with the Chinese Academy of Sciences.

John Pinder, honorary secretary of the UK and Ireland Lakes Network, urged coordination.

"To address the problem, various factors should coordinate with each other well, while poor understanding at all levels - lack of coordinated data, no long term monitoring program and not knowing where to target efforts -  present major problems for pollution-curbing endeavors worldwide."

A partnership between China and the UK on the Chaohu Lake issues "will surely bear more fruit in the future," said Jiang Hong, deputy mayor of Hefei.

Before the seminar, Hefei enjoyed years of cooperation with Germany. A long-term partnership with other countries will be established and maintained in the future, according to the Hefei government.

Yu Deguang contributed to the story.

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