Pollution alarm as tourism businesses contaminate home of China’s hairy crab

Mandy Zuo

A drinking water source in the home of the Chinese delicacy, the hairy crab, has become contaminated as the area has become overrun by tourists and unlicensed farm-stay accommodation, according to China’s state broadcaster.

The environmental problems worsened in autumn as the hairy crabs, or Chinese mitten crabs, matured and tourist numbers peaked, CCTV reported on Tuesday.

More than 1,000 farm stays were operating without a licence on Yangcheng Lake’s Meirentui Peninsula, resulting in waste being discharged in nearby streams, the report said.

Residents said the water – which has turned a dark colour – used to be safe to drink directly and they still used it to wash clothes, mops, plates and food.

Authorities had turned a blind eye to the many businesses piping their waste water directly from kitchens into the rivers, the report said.

“There are sewers but eventually they still lead to the rivers,” an unnamed chef at one farm stay said.

“The water in Yangcheng Lake is connected to all those streams. There are no more fish or snails in the streams,” another resident was quoted as saying.

Yangcheng Lake is administered by the city of Suzhou in Jiangsu province, and was designated as a drinking water source by the authority in 2016.

Under water protection regulations, property, tourism and restaurants businesses are banned from discharging water into the lake.

However, many operators on Meirentui said they did not need a business licence as long as they were well-connected, the report said.

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The operator of one farm stay said he had been in business for a decade and had not been required to have a permit to discharge waste water.

More than 185,000 tourists visited the Yangcheng Lake area during last month’s National Day “golden week”, an increase of 7.4 per cent on the previous year, according to the Gusu Evening News.

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