Dianchi Lake shows blue is the new green

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - LIFE | TRAVEL - By ERIK NILS­SON in Kun­ming erik_nils­son@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Seag­ull swarms. Fan­tas­tic flow­ers. Won­drous wet­lands.

In­deed, the life and scenery sup­ported by Kun­ming’s once eco­log­i­cally dev­as­tated Dianchi Lake shows the po­ten­tial of re­vi­tal­iz­ing spoiled aquatic sys­tems.

And much of that po­ten­tial hails from tourism.

Dianchi — Yun­nan prov­ince’s largest wa­ter body — rip­ples across about 330 square kilo­me­ters as a vast eco­log­i­cal para­ble of cau­tion and re­demp­tion.

It was pris­tine in the 1970s and su­perla­tively toxic by the ’80s, as in­dus­tri­al­iza­tion thun­dered na­tion­wide.

Pol­lu­tion de­clined but per­sisted un­til 2009, when the govern­ment re­moved il­le­gal houses and fish­ponds.

It then opened the area for trav­el­ers.

Au­thor­i­ties sim­i­larly re­sus­ci­tated the wet­lands that soak its banks, which are spec­ta­cles in them­selves.

Yongchang wet­land’s visi­tors can stroll and cy­cle along path­ways and board­walks that crisscross the web-work of bogs and streams.

Wooden boats bob in the nar­row Chuan­fang River, since fish­ing on Dianchi Lake is al­lowed only 37 days a year.

Ten work­ers hoist four tons of sea­weed from the river — a day — to pre­vent or­ganic pol­lu­tion. The plant mat­ter is used in or­ganic fer­til­iz­ers.

Myr­iad shades of green­ery along the banks are dap­pled with flow­ers of ev­ery hue. El­derly res­i­dents per­form folk songs on tra­di­tional in­stru­ments.

The wet­land hosts over 280 an­i­mal species, in­clud­ing 23 types of fish, and 290 plant va­ri­eties.

Visi­tors can of­ten wit­ness sev­eral kinds of wa­ter­fowl swim­ming and soar­ing in a sin­gle vista.

Over 80,000 mi­grat­ing gulls flut­tered into the area last year.

China Daily ex­plores the coun­try’s shades of green in this se­ries.

The birds stay five months, start­ing in Oc­to­ber.

Part of the en­vi­ron­men­tal restora­tion that has pro­pelled Dianchi’s eco­tourism is its wa­ter treat­ment.

Wa­ter is pumped from treat­ment plants us­ing grav­ity rather than elec­tric­ity.

The first was built in 1991. Today, 11 pump pu­rify 55.5 mil­lion cu­bic me­ters of wa­ter from res­i­dences and busi­nesses us­ing anaer­o­bic sys­tems.

The last line of de­fense be­fore Dianchi’s shores are plants No 7 and 8, which com­bine to cre­ate the city’s largest treat­ment cen­ter. They process 300,000 cu­bic me­ters daily.

The pro­cessed wa­ter poured into the lake un­til 2014. It wasn’t pure enough to stem blue-greenal­gae flour­ishes. So it’s now sent to places like nearby An­ning city for in­dus­trial use.

Today, Dianchi Lake’s legacy, bois­ter­ous bio­di­ver­sity and stun­ning scener­ies re­mind us en­vi­ron­men­tal pro­tec­tion isn’t only green but also blue.

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