10 Million Algae Eaters Clean China’s Taihu Lake

Monday, February 23, 2009 10:02
Posted in category Products, Uncategorized

During the summer of 2007, 2 of China’s largest lakes (Tai Lake in Jiangsu province and Chao Lake in Yunnan province) caked over in a green algae.

It was an issue that sparked a new level of environmental awareness, and while much of the media focus was on surrounding chemical factories, the reasons behind the blooms were largely a combination of drought and chemical (N) fertilizer runoff (as covered recently in last week’s post  Reduced Fertilizer Equals Reduced Water Pollution. It’s That Simple).

During that time, as part of the clean up of Chao lake, millions of algae eating fish were released into the water to do what they do best (see picture above)… and now, they have reproduced the program at Tai Lake by releasing 10 million carp:

Millions of algae-eating fish fry are being released into China’s third largest freshwater lake, Taihu, in a five-day campaign to curb the blue-green growth.

The 2,400-square-km lake is a major drinking water source in east China’s Jiangsu Province. Blue-green algae choked the lake in2007, reducing drinking water supplies to 2 million residents in Wuxi City.

sadly, this may not be enough (assuming these 10m were a good idea to begin with):

He said a silver carp could consume 50 kg of algae and other plankton life in the course of gaining 1 kg in weight. Based on such parameters, he said, researchers had calculated that it would take 100 million fish to clean the lake.

While an effective manner to address a clean up, and certainly better than adding tones of algae killling chemicals to the water, I really wish that the focus would move away from developing solutions to clean up problems and move towards prevention.

Educating farmers on proper pesticide/ fertilizer dosage, clamping down on factories, and enforcing the laws can all be done at a significant cost reduction compared to a clean up that will in the end cost 10s of billions of dollars.

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