Chinese city without water

The taps were turned back on for more than 2 million people in an eastern Chinese city, after a local lake was clogged up by a foul-smelling blue-green algae affecting water supply.

For days, local residents in Wuxi City and neighbouring cities were told to drink bottled water after they discovered a ‘yellow stinking water’ when they turned their taps on. But now new state reports indicate that water from Taihu Lake meets acceptable standards for drinking.

The outbreak of foul-smelling algae in Taihu Lake was discovered in late May, blaming high temperatures, low water levels, and abnormally high concentrations of phosphorus and nitrogen in the lake water.

Taihu Lake located in the Jiangsu province is a well known tourist attraction, but now also one of China’s most notoriously polluted bodies of water and source of contention for environmentalists.

Xinhua News Agency said: “Local meteorological observatory recorded an average temperature in the Taihu Lake region of 17.1 degrees Celsius in the first five months, 0.7 degrees higher than previous years and the highest since 1955.

“Rainmakers fired 39 rockets containing silver iodide from eight sites around Taihu inducing a rainfall of more than 20 mm.”

The algae was also said to be tackled by local experts, using an oxidant in the water to dispel the stench in the lake and active carbon powder at treatment plants.

China has seen string of water pollution accidents, with more than 140 cases since 2005 when drinking water to millions of people in the northeastern city of Harbin was stopped after a chemical spill contaminated the Songhua River.

New state reports late Thursday indicated a similar algae has been found in the neighbouring Anhui province, with water supplies being closely monitored in Lake Chao, China’s fifth-largest freshwater lake.

These algae outbreaks and water pollution in China highlight environmental concerns on the week of World Environment Day, where China ranks as the world’s second largest polluter behind the United States.

Dana Gornitzki

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