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Last Updated: Saturday, 27 October 2007, 09:00 GMT 10:00 UK
China to clean up polluted lake
Dead fish next to blue-green algae on Lake Tai, May 2007
The algae on Lake Tai killed fish and polluted tap water
China is to spend millions of dollars in an effort to clean up one of its largest lakes, which has been severely polluted by years of waste dumping.

An algae infestation earlier this year in Lake Tai, in Jiangsu province, led to a public panic and the suspension of water supplies from the lake.

The province now plans to spend $14.5m (7m) in a five-year plan to improve water quality and control polluters.

More than 70% of China's rivers and lakes are badly polluted, figures show.

Jiangsu's government announced the cleanup plan on its website.

The plan would control the plant build-up in Lake Tai "in five years and realise the clear improvement of water quality," the government said in a statement.

"In another eight to 10 years, the problem of the Lake Tai water pollution will be basically resolved."

The lake was previously a major tourist attraction, but steadily declined as the Wuxi area developed into a centre for manufacturing and high technology.

Local difficulties

In June a bloom of blue-green algae on the lake forced officials to suspend water supplies from the lake the city of Wuxi, home to several million people.

The algae covered about one-third of the lake.

Although China accepts the severity of pollution across its waterways, there remains some local resistance to those who highlight the issue.

Earlier this year Wu Lihong, a well-known environmental campaigner who had regularly collected samples from Lake Tai, was arrested and convicted of blackmailing factory owners.

His supporters say his real crime was blowing the whistle on local polluters.

Senior officials in the Chinese government regularly speak out about the dangers of pollution and the need to clean up dangerously polluted rivers and lakes.

But correspondents say local officials are more reluctant to take action against polluters and enforce regulations.

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