Beijing Intl. Horticultural Expo: Dried up lake resumes water after half a century
As part of our special series on the ongoing Beijing International horticulture expo, today we look at Minqin County in northwestern China's Gansu Province. It is one of the world's driest regions. But in recent years, more rainfall has replenished the lake and restored the wetlands. CGTN reporter Hu Chao talks to locals about how their lives are better off now with more water.
76-year-old Zhang Shangcun has lived near the Qingtu Lake all of his life.
He remembers life before and after the lake dried up in the late 1950s.
ZHANG SHANGCUN, VILLAGER MINQIN COUNTY, WUWEI CITY, GANSU PROVINCE "When I was a child, the water was much deeper and the reeds looked lusher than now. But the water ran out gradually and our lives became difficult, with less water to drink and no crops growing."
The Qingtu Lake lies at the end of the Shiyang River, which is the mother river for local life. To the east of the lake is the Tengger Desert and the Badain Jara Desert lies to the northwest. The lake used to be the largest in the county. But excessive water exploitation along the Shiyang River caused environmental deterioration. Thus the Qingtu Lake dried up in the 1950s, connecting the two deserts to create a desert line as long as 13 kilometers. The whole county was being engulfed since and more green lands were disappearing.
Starting in 2007, a series of measures were adopted to make changes.
LI GUOQING CHIEF OF WUWEI WATER AFFAIRS BUREAU "We have launched water-saving actions in both the urban and rural areas. The municipal government has implemented a water quota system for agriculture and various industries. And a ladder-like water pricing system has also been promoted in residential areas."
Also, more than 3,500 pumping wells have been closed and 1,300 square kilometers of farmland have adopted water-saving irrigation. The volume of underground water exploitation has been reduced by 40%.
HU CHAO MINQIN COUNTY, WUWEI CITY, GANSU PROVINCE "In 2010, the Hong Ya Shan reservoir discharged nearly 13 million cubic meters of water into the Qingtu Lake for the first time ever. Then, a 3 square kilometer water area formed after the lake was dried-up for half a century. And now it has developed into a wetland over 100 square kilometers large."
In fact, Minqin County is one of the major sources of sand storms in China. The re-emerging Qingtu Lake has slowed the environmental deterioration.
ZHANG SHANGCUN, VILLAGER MINQIN COUNTY, WUWEICITY, GANSU PROVINCE "Now as the lake resumes water, we can farm again and life has turned better. Without water, the Tengger Desert would surround us. Now the lake has shrunk the desert."