Clean Up Lake That Provides Water for 30 Million People

Target: Li Ganjie, PR China’s Minister of Environmental Protection

Goal: Reverse levels of pollution present in China’s third largest freshwater lake, Lake Tai, which provides fresh water for around 30 million people.

Lake Tai, China’s third largest freshwater lake that provides water for around 30 million people, is severely polluted. Despite its importance, it has been severely fouled over a number of decades, largely due to rapid industrial expansion, as well as agricultural waste. Eutrophication caused by nutrient runoff has led to deoxygenating algae blooms — large ones have occurred regularly since at least the ’90s — and the growth of cyanobacteria colonies in its waters. A particularly devastating bloom occurred in 2007, leaving around 2 million people without potable water for a week.

The New York Times reported that the lake has been “under assault” since the 1950s, and that the unrestricted dumping of effluent has caused serious declines in tourism, agricultural yields, and fish stocks in or around the lake. The continuous buildup of organic pollutants, nutrients, and heavy metals in its waters and sediments will only cause these problems to worsen, especially when combined with the effects of climate change — hot weather and lower levels of precipitation contributing to destructive algae blooms.

The Environmental Justice Atlas cites the impacts of the pollution of Lake Tai as, “Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, waste overflow, surface water pollution/decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, reduced ecological/hydrological connectivity, [and] groundwater pollution or depletion,” for visible impacts, and “food insecurity (crop damage) [and] soil contamination” for potential impacts. Nitrogen and phosphorous are considered especially problematic for the ecology of the lake.

Efforts to reduce pollution in, or prevent it from contaminating, the lake have been inconsistent at best, and mostly ineffective. Tell the government of China that the time to take real, sustained, concrete steps to protect and restore Lake Tai is now.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Minister Li,

Lake Taihu in the east of China provides water to 30 million people, including 1 million people living in Wuxi. However, since the 1950s, and particularly since the ’90s, the lake has been subjected to ever greater levels of pollution. The continuous eutrophication of the lake, caused mainly by industrial and agricultural effluent, has lead to dangerous levels of deoxygenation in its waters, imperiling its ecology. Dangerous algae blooms are a side effect of this runoff; in 2007, during a particularly large bloom, around 2 million people in the region were left without potable water for a week. Considering the ongoing trend of contamination in Lake Tai, a recurrence cannot be ruled out — and next time, perhaps, on an even greater order of magnitude.

Thus far, the pollution of Lake Tai has lead to declines in agricultural yields — namely rice — as well as lower rates of tourism and a number of fish kills.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection’s plan to allot funds to clean up the lake over the course of five years is commendable. In reality, however, the task of restoring this body of water to a true state of health is a much steeper challenge that requires pinpointing pollutants and containing them at the source — mainly nitrogen and phosphorus. Please urge the government of China, your ministry, and the local governments of Wuxi and Jiangsu province to do more to restore the invaluable Lake Taihu.

Sincerely,

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Jiang Zhe

Sign the Petition

  • Only your name will be displayed. By signing, you accept our terms and may receive updates on this and related causes.
FacebookCare2 NewsTwitterEmailShare

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Facebook Comments

comments

523 Signatures

  • kathleen v adamski
  • Lisa La Rosa
  • Sue Mohr
  • Amy Sullivan
  • Martin Hoffman
  • Kjersti Gunnberg
  • Dorothy Savage
  • William Sherman
  • Kathleen Archibald
  • Vanessa Fernandes
1 of 52123...52
Skip to toolbar