China to address lake pollution

China is to bring in tough legislation to try and halt worsening pollution of the country's lakes, which is effecting domestic water supply.

And launching the new legislation, the Government’s head of environment has attacked “bumpkin policies” that encourage local officals to turn a blind eye to environmental hazards, reports the state-owned Xinhua news agency.

The clampdown comes after the Government discovered almost 90 per cent of the country’s industrial parks, and 40 per cent of companies, were flouting environmental guidelines.

Zhou Shengxian, director of the State Environmental Protection Administration (SEPA), said the new rules covered China’s three major lake areas: the eastern Taihu Lake, Chaohu Lake and the southwestern Dianchi Lake.

In the last two months, outbreaks of blue-green algae have been reported in these three lake areas, endangering domestic water supplies.

At the beginning of July, water supplies to 200,000 people in Shuyang County, Jiangsu Province, were stopped for more than 40 hours after ammonia and nitrogen were found in a local river.

“Environmental problems, if improperly handled, can trigger major social crises, and improving water quality has become our most urgent task,” Zhou told environment officials. He said illegal activities that harmed the environment were “rampant”.

The Government has now brought in a ban on all projects involving discharges containing ammonia and phosphorus, and will refuse existing applications to establish similar projects, along with a ban on the production, use and sales of detergents containing phosphorous around the lake drainage areas.

By the end of 2008, fish farms will be banned from the three lake areas, and there will also be a ban on the use of fertilizers in fishponds and vegetable and flower farms within one kilometre of a lakeside.

“We must get rid of all ‘bumpkin policies’ or protective local policies that sacrifice the environment for profit,” Zhou said.

Paul Humphries

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