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Rescuing a Lake
Local government takes forceful measures to save Erhai's environment
 NO. 21 MAY 25, 2017

All restaurants and hotels beside Erhai, the famous lake in Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture of southwest China's Yunnan Province, were ordered to suspend their business by April 10 and undergo environmental inspections, according to a local authority notice issued on March 31.

This is only part of the local government's series of forceful efforts aimed at protecting and saving Erhai's environment.

In recent years, pollutants discharged into Erhai have far exceeded its self-cleaning capacity. There have been frequent massive outbursts of blue-green algae in the lake, particularly at the beginning of this year, which saw a marked deterioration of the lake's water quality.

Both widespread use of fertilizers and pesticides in agricultural production around the upper reaches of the lake and the discharge of wastewater have contributed to polluting the lake. Booming local tourism has led to the production of a huge amount of waste, putting great pressure on the lake. In 2016, Dali received nearly 40 million tourists, four times the number 10 years ago. Lack of water treatment facilities and a low wastewater treatment rate have further exacerbated the problem.

Dali will take seven measures to protect Erhai such as treating wastewater and garbage from surrounding villages and reducing wastewater discharges from agricultural production into Erhai.

For instance, farmers will be required to rent out their farmlands to realize large-scale, efficient and ecologically friendly agriculture. Moreover, public-private partnerships will be introduced in large projects, such as construction of wastewater treatment facilities, to solve the funding difficulties for pollution treatment.

(This is an edited excerpt of an article published in Caixin Weekly on May 8)

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