China reports another lake affected by algae

BEIJING (Reuters) - Another Chinese lake has been hit by green algae similar to that which cut off water supplies to a city earlier this month, but state media said the new outbreak was not as serious.

The algae has been found in Chaohu Lake -- China’s fifth-largest freshwater lake -- in eastern Anhui province, the official Xinhua news agency said.

“The algae is only in the western part of the lake and will not pollute the whole lake ...,” it quoted Zhang Zhiyuan, chief engineer of the provincial environmental protection bureau, as saying.

“Theoretically speaking, the algae could spread unchecked. It is also impossible to eradicate it in the short term,” he added. “But its growth is greatly influenced by weather. Thanks to the recent frequent rainfall that has diluted the lake, the algae has been notably curbed.”

Officials may try to pump more water into the lake to prevent the algae spreading, the report said, though it added that so far water supplies to Chaohu city had not been affected.

“The lake has suffered from high levels of nitrogen and phosphorus for years,” Xinhua said.

Taihu Lake, China’s third largest, in the eastern province of Jiangsu, was struck by a foul-smelling canopy of algae that left tap water undrinkable for more than 2.3 million Wuxi residents and prompted a run on bottled water.

Algae blooms can develop in water that is rich in nutrients, often because of run-off from heavy fertilizer use, industrial waste and untreated sewage.

Tap water returned to normal in Wuxi after emergency measures such as diverting water into the lake from the Yangtze River and seeding clouds to provoke rainfall.