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Environmental Management

, Volume 45, Issue 1, pp 105–112 | Cite as

A Drinking Water Crisis in Lake Taihu, China: Linkage to Climatic Variability and Lake Management

  • Boqiang Qin
  • Guangwei Zhu
  • Guang Gao
  • Yunlin Zhang
  • Wei Li
  • Hans W. Paerl
  • Wayne W. Carmichael
Article

Abstract

In late May, 2007, a drinking water crisis took place in Wuxi, Jiangsu Province, China, following a massive bloom of the toxin producing cyanobacteria Microcystis spp. in Lake Taihu, China’s third largest freshwater lake. Taihu was the city’s sole water supply, leaving approximately two million people without drinking water for at least a week. This cyanobacterial bloom event began two months earlier than previously documented for Microcystis blooms in Taihu. This was attributed to an unusually warm spring. The prevailing wind direction during this period caused the bloom to accumulate at the shoreline near the intake of the water plant. Water was diverted from the nearby Yangtze River in an effort to flush the lake of the bloom. However, this management action was counterproductive, because it produced a current which transported the bloom into the intake, exacerbating the drinking water contamination problem. The severity of this microcystin toxin containing bloom and the ensuing drinking water crisis were attributable to excessive nutrient enrichment; however, a multi-annual warming trend extended the bloom period and amplified its severity, and this was made worse by unanticipated negative impacts of water management. Long-term management must therefore consider both the human and climatic factors controlling these blooms and their impacts on water supply in this and other large lakes threatened by accelerating eutrophication.

Keywords

Cyanobacteria Blooms Microcystins Cyanotoxin Drinking water Large lakes Eutrophication Climate Water management 

Notes

Acknowledgments

Jiang Ji and Sheng Feng helped collect water samples and assisted with nutrient analyses. Ge Yu provided the GCM simulation projection. Qiaohua Zhao provided meteorological data for the Taihu Basin and surrounding area. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their constructive comments. This collaborative work is supported by the Chinese National Science Foundation (Contract: 40730529, 40825004), Chinese Academy of Sciences (Contract: kzcx2-yw-419), the US Environmental Protection Agency (Project 83335101-0), the US National Science Foundation (CBET Program) Project 0826819 and the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration-US EPA Ecology and Oceanography of Harmful Algal Blooms (ECOHAB) Program, Project NA05NOS4781194.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Boqiang Qin
    • 1
  • Guangwei Zhu
    • 1
  • Guang Gao
    • 1
  • Yunlin Zhang
    • 1
  • Wei Li
    • 1
  • Hans W. Paerl
    • 2
  • Wayne W. Carmichael
    • 3
  1. 1.State Key Laboratory of Lake Science and EnvironmentNanjing Institute of Geography & Limnology, Chinese Academy of SciencesNanjingPeople’s Republic of China
  2. 2.Institute of Marine SciencesUniversity of North Carolina at Chapel HillMorehead CityUSA
  3. 3.Department of Biological SciencesWright State UniversityDaytonUSA

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