The article this post links too is a bit misleading. Read it, was horrified by it, decided to go and look around on Google Maps myself.
The city of Baotou does not have pipes all over the streets as the article stated. The streets are wide, paved, full of cars. The city looks pretty decent actually. If you could remove the massive polluting factories on the Western edge of the city, it would probably be pretty nice actually. It is only when you cross the canal into the industrial complex itself that the pipes and crap all start appearing. The article made it sound like the whole city was overrun with industrial piping and smoke stacks. It isn't. At all.
They also made the lake sound like some gigantic monster of a lake. It also isn't. It isn't tiny, by any means, but to say it stretched to the horizon is literary hyperbole. Standing on the shore of any lake it stretches to the horizon. NW to SE it is about 2500ft, and NE to SW it is probably a mile.
That's not to say that this place isn't an absolute mess. It is. The industrial complex is massive. The main portion is at least 5 miles N to S. It is a Gordian knot of factories and conduits and walkways. And the air in the entire region must indeed be foul beyond words. But the residents of the city aren't living in the middle of the industrial complex as the article made it feel. And the lake itself is far smaller than described and is surrounded by all the factories and plants, not out in the open in farmland as the article again made it seem. It may once have been farmland, but it is all surrounded by industrial complexes now. This is probably the superfund site to end all superfund sites, but they exaggerated quite a bit writing that article.