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Chinese delegation tours Lake Michigan coast
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Chinese delegation tours Lake Michigan coast

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PORTAGE | A group of 12 businessmen, government officials and environmental advocates from China gathered at Portage Public Marina on Tuesday after a tour of the Lake Michigan coastline.

Their visit from the China Environment Forum was part of a joint effort between the Northwest Indiana Forum, Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission and the Indiana Wildlife Federation.

They worked with the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. to bring the group to learn about how Northwest Indiana has successfully worked to improve water quality through the Great Lake Compact.

"Our goal is to link Chinese water experts with this excellent model of success," said Jennifer Turner, director of the China Environment Forum.

Ran Liping, project officer with the Gansu Green Camel Bell Environment and Development Center from Lanzhou City, Gansu Province of China said she was impressed with what she saw.

"The key point here is that so many people work together to protect Lake Michigan. They do a great job here and we must learn from this," she said.

Turner said that the delegates are most concerned with tackling severe water pollution in China's Lake Tai.

"Lake Tai is China's third largest lake and it is blooming with toxic algae as a result of industrial and agricultural runoff. In fact, 40 percent of waterways in China can't be used for anything, or shouldn't be, because of municipal, agricultural and industrial waste," Turner said.

Kay Nelson, environmental director for the Northwest Indiana Forum, said during the boat tour, delegates were surprised at the good water quality in Lake Michigan with so much industry located along the shores.

"Their first comment to me was, 'it doesn't stink!' I was flabbergasted. They saw the shoreline as seamless, from industry, to national park, to residential, without deterioration in appearance," Nelson said.

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