Pollution ruins water supply to 30 million in China

A giant lake in China supplying water to 30 million people has become undrinkable through pollution.

In yet another example of the country’s problems linked to rapid industrial growth, potentially deadly algae is spreading across Lake Taihu.

The lake is China’s third-largest and is surrounded by industry, including thousands of chemical plants.

Algae blooms are frequently blamed on pollution from factories and sewage – and grow due to a process that saps water of oxygen and makes it dangerous to drink

Last May a similar outbreak of algae on the lake which borders Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces made tap water undrinkable for a million people for about 10 days.

The lake is near the city of Wuxi, a hub of 5 million people about 80 miles from Shanghai.

The conditions in the lake are ripe for a large algae outbreak this summer as temperatures rise, government scientists said.

“Even under very strictly controlled conditions, this phenomenon will last three to five years, or even longer,” said a spokesman.

He added the quality of water in the lake is level five, the worst quality, meaning the water is useful only for agriculture.

To prevent a worsening outbreak this year the government has been urged to strengthen its control over water and industrial pollution, cut pollution entering the lake from surrounding areas and control pollution from big industry.

After the outbreak last May the government promised a crackdown on polluting industries near Taihu.

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