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Smelly Tap Water Cause Panic Water Buying in East China City

Posted by Author on May 31, 2007

Independent Online, South Africa, May 31 2007-

Beijing – Panic water buying in a major eastern Chinese city has broken out with millions hoarding drinking supplies after public taps became tainted with polluted lake water, state press reported on Thursday.

Stores in Wuxi city, Jiangsu province, began rationing sales of bottled water after the outbreak of blue-green algae contaminated the drinking supplies of the city of five million people, Xinhua news agency reported.

The industrial city on the lower reaches of the Yangtze river relies on the once scenic Taihu lake for its drinking supplies, it said.

“Citizens complained that tap water was so tainted and smelly that they could not wash with it,” the report said.

State television on Thursday showed lines of residents buying and carting off bottled water, with many shop shelves already empty.

Xinhua said the price of an 18-litre bottle of water in Wuxi sold for 50 yuan (about R50) on Wednesday, more than six times higher than the normal price of eight yuan.

Water levels on Taihu lake are at their lowest in 50 years due to a lack of rain and high temperatures, while the inflow from the Yangtze river has not been strong enough to wash out the pollution, the agency said.

The lake has been under stress for years as untreated sewage from local towns and villages as well as the region’s booming chemical and light manufacturing industry has left the water choked with pollutants, local press reports have said for years.

Officials did not say how long the crisis would last, but one biologist said that the algae bloom in Taihu lake could last four or five months.

“Concerning the present situation, if we don’t take effective measures, the algae bloom on Taihu could last up to five months,” Hu Weiping, a biologist with Nanjing Academy of Sciences, told the China News Service.

Hu said that due to a lack of incoming water, the temperatures in the lake reached the highest in 25 years in April, providing ripe conditions for the algae bloom.

Algae blooms threaten most Chinese freshwater lakes and are chiefly caused by untreated sewage and high concentrations of nitrogen, which is a main ingredient in soap powders and fertilisers. – Sapa-AFP

original report from Independent Online

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