Water pollution in Dongting Lake
The Tale of the White Serpent, a household story in China, is set in Dongting Lake. The beautiful romance of the lovers of Bai Shuzhen and Louyi is gone with this seriously polluted lake.
Hunan provincial government ordered all paper mills in the area of Dongting Lake, the second largest fresh-water lake to close until they could reduce water pollution to meet the standard.
Dongting Lake has been reduced to half its original area of 5,000 square kilometres by reclamation, mostly for growing weed as raw material for paper mill. Last year, the paper mills discharged over 100 million tons of waste water into the lake. Standing by the lakeside, you could see bubble and black or brown pollutant. The people living in the area have relied on this like as source of drinking water for a long time. But now the quality of the water is below the safety standard and fishing is almost impossible.
But the order of plant closure results in county governments' financial difficulties. For example, there are seven paper mills in Nan county. The county government would lose HK$20 million in tax if all paper mills were shut down for one year. And a large number of workers would also be sacked.
If one looks at the problems closely, one will find out the short-sighted calculations of the local governments and enterprises are the root cause. One set of environmental protection equipment only costs about 1 million yuan and it would only increase the production cost by less than 1%. Why didn't the paper mill install the equipment earlier? Why didn't the local governments enforce the regulations earlier?
All paper mills close on Dongting Lake
Photo: Steve Webel