Ecological Effort in Yunnan: Anti-pollution campaign for Dianchi Lake starts to pay off
Dianchi Lake in southwest China's Yunnan Province is the largest fresh water lake on the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and the main water source for the capital city Kunming. Since the 1980s, though, the lake has been suffering from pollution. A large-scale project began in the late 1990s to protect it and the efforts are starting to pay off. CGTN's Yang Jinghao has more.
Clearing up all kinds of garbage – plastic items, fallen leaves and weeds. 56-year-old Li Yuexue has worked on this river for more than 10 years. Traversing downtown Kunming city, the Panlong River is a major river pouring into Dianchi Lake. And Li's job is to prevent pollutants from entering the lake.
LI YUEXUE SANITATION WORKER "The job is tiring and dirty, but I feel gratified as what I do can contribute a little to the pollution treatment of our Dianchi Lake."
Li was born and grew up by the lake, which is dubbed as a "sparkling pearl embedded in the plateau". In his memory, the lake was very clean and rich in such aquatic resources as fish and shrimps.
Since the 1980s, it began to deteriorate as the city expanded and people's lifestyle largely changed.
In the late 1990s, the lake became one of the most polluted in the country, and the water quality was deemed the worst level in China's water quality grading system.
LI YUEXUE SANITATION WORKER "The lake's surface was blanketed by a layer of blue and green algae, which was several centimeters deep. The water was murky and smelly."
YANG JINGHAO KUNMING "I'm here at the largest sewage treatment plant in Kunming city. The water smells very unpleasant. Can you imagine that, in the past, this polluted water just flowed directly into the Dianchi Lake, the so-called 'mother lake' for local residents?"
Interception of pollution was the first step taken by the local government. Over the past two decades, the city has built intensive pipes and scores of sewage treatment plants. All the sewage has to be carefully processed before being reused or discharged into the lake.
And the systematic project includes more than this. For example, around 3 billion cubic meters of water has been diverted into the lake since 2013 to restore its self-purifying capabilities. Du Jinsong is an engineer who has been part of the project. He says another integral part is to restore the ecology.
DU JINSONG, ENGINEER KUNMING RESEARCH INSTITUTE OF DIANCHI LAKE "We have established thousands of wetlands around the Dianchi Lake, which have formed an important ecological barrier. They can effectively decontaminate water as a transition area."
All the efforts have begun to pay off. The water quality has been improved steadily over the past few years, and the lake area has regained its status as the city's landmark tourist destination.
But local officials realize that there's still a long way to go to win this tough battle. In the next couple of years, considerable amount of capital and innovative measures will be put in place.
WU TAO DEPUTY MAYOR, KUNMING CITY "The Dianchi Lake is just a mirror of the economic and social development of Kunming. I believe we will brush up this mirror again with our persistent effort."
And this is also a long-cherished wish for millions of citizens like Li Yuexue. YJH, CGTN, Kunming, Yunnan Province.