Wuhan's efforts to protect its lakes
Updated 14:47, 06-Jun-2019
By Xia Ruixue
It's June, more and more people are heading for the water. But a few years ago, no one was able to swim in China's largest downtown lake – the East Lake in Wuhan, Hubei Province. For decades, it had been suffering from soil, water, noise and air pollution. But now, it is once again a place to cool off, and even to host swimming contests.
On June 2, the annual Wuhan Swimming Marathon kicked off at the East Lake.
Cherry blossoms at the East Lake. /VCG Photo

Cherry blossoms at the East Lake. /VCG Photo

It attracted 1,800 participants, including 73 professional swimmers and 1,727 amateurs.
Many participants recount seeing big fish swimming alongside them.
However, the East Lake was not like this 10 years ago.
Wuhan used to be a heavy manufacturing base, which in turn brought a great amount of pollution to the lake.
An outbreak of blue-green algae occurred many times. Dead fish could be seen everywhere.
The East Lake is becoming cleaner and cleaner. /VCG Photo

The East Lake is becoming cleaner and cleaner. /VCG Photo

“For the past 30 years, we kept curbing pollution. We started from monitoring all the sewage outlets and making sure no polluted water is discharged into the lake,” said Zeng Bie, vice director of the administration committee of the East Lake.
In 2015, the local government started building a long greenway network encircling the East Lake.
The 102-kilometer belt of green space is now a pleasant place for people to relax and helps to improve the water quality.
“I love coming here,” said a little girl, “I can see fish and mandarin ducks swimming in the lake.”
The East Lake is a paradise for white herons. /VCG Photo

The East Lake is a paradise for white herons. /VCG Photo

According to Wang Hongzhu, a researcher from the Institute of Hydrobiology at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, “the water in the lakes will eventually go to the Yangtze River. If we improve their water quality, the Yangtze River will become cleaner too.”
The East Lake's average water quality had long been at Grade V – the lowest quality grade in China's five-tier system – or worse before 2008.
Now its water quality has been at Grade II for five months. This is the best level in the past 40 years.
The East Lake is now ready for the sailing competition of the 7th Military World Games this October.
(Cover image via VCG.)
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