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Lake Profile

Tai (Taihu)

General Information

Description Located in Kiangsu Province.
Country China
Latitude 31° 15' 0" (31.2500)
Longitude 120° 10' 0" (120.1667)

Physical Characteristics

Description Lake Tai-hu was created by riverine and coastal forces.
Surface Area 2,240.00 km2
Depth Mean depth: 2.1 m
Type Fresh


Economic Value
Major Cities

Watershed Management

Description Chinese government officials have established new laws for controlling industrial effluents. The Chinese National Environmental Protection Administration has conducted several national lake surveys to more fully understand lake pollution problems. They are providing funds for treating nutrient pollution problems.

The responsibility for acually monitoring and controlling industrial pollution lies with the local EPA. Most industrial wastes are not monitored. Agencies often lack funds and/or equipment.

Issues Untreated effluents from the watershed have increased substantially over the last 10 years (2001). High levels of metals including mercury and arsenic have been found in sediments and fish.

Use of the lake for extensive aquaculture and farming along shore has led to an increase in nutrient pollution. Much shoreline has been converted to farmland and ponds. Although the government has announced a policy of returning farmland claimed from lakes back to lake use, population pressures are real and it is not clear whether the policy will be implemented.

Other Issues Toxics
Specific Contaminants Industrial

Biodiversity Conservation

Description As a result of nutrient pollution, phytoplankton assemblages in the lake have changed greatly since 1960. Species diversity has been dropping since 1960.

Many species that depend on areas covered with aquatic vegetation for spawning, foraging and protection have lost habitat and are declining.

Species of Concern The Shanghai softshell turtle (Rafetus swinhoei is only known from Taihu Lake and the Shanghai river. These turtles have been seriously impacted by pollution and are intensively exploited for the food, and possibly the pet trade.

Common carp (Carassius auratus) and Crucian carp (Carassius auratus) are also threatened.


Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network



AZE site summary: Tai Hu Lake
ILEC Database
Lake Taihu Management


10/14/2007 - In China, a Lake’s Champion Imperils Himself
5/26/2005 - Environmental efforts in Taihu Lake Basin set good example (China)
5/8/2002 - Huge investment earmarked for water cleanup in China
3/27/2002 - New program to clean major freshwater lake in East China
9/11/2001 - China refutes bombastic report on blue algae pollution

Additional Data Sources

Birkett, C., and I. Mason. 1995. A new global lakes database for remote sensing programme studying climatically sensitive large lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 21 (3) 307-318.
International Lake Environment Committee, the United Nations Environment Program and Environment Agency, Government of Japan. 1997. World Lakes Database.
Munawar, M. And R. Hecky. 2001. The Great Lakes of the World (GLOW) Food-web, Health & Integrity. Backhuys Publishers, The Netherlands.

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