BEIJING: China says it will spend more than $14 billion to clean up a famed lake inundated by so much pollution this year that it became a symbol of the country’s lax environmental regulation of polluting industries.
Officials in Jiangsu Province, in eastern China, posted a notice Friday on a government Web site announcing plans to spend 108.5 billion yuan, or $14.4 billion, for a cleanup of Lake Tai, the country’s third-largest freshwater lake. The campaign would focus initially on eradicating the toxic algal bloom that choked the lake this spring and left more than two million people without drinking water.
“Jiangsu Province plans to effectively control the eutrophication of Lake Tai in five years, and greatly improve the water quality of the lake,” the notice declared. Eutrophication occurs when a body of water becomes so rich in chemical nutrients that algae and other aquatic plants displace other life.
Lake Tai, known as China’s ancient “land of rice and fish,” is a legendary setting, once famous for its bounty of white shrimp, whitebait and whitefish. But over time, an industrial buildup transformed the region. More than 2,800 chemical factories arose around the lake, and industrial dumping became a severe problem and, eventually, a crisis.
This spring, urban sewage and chemical dumping caused an explosion of bright green pond scum that coated much of the giant lake with a fetid algal coating. Panic quickly followed in Wuxi, a nearby city that depended on the lake to supply drinking water for its 2.3 million …..