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People.cn |Yunnan Province: To Wrestle with the Challenge of Plateau Lake Management and Help Build a Beautiful Yunnan

18DAY
2019-03
       According to Yunnan Provincial Governor Ruan Chengfa, who is also the River Chief of Erhai Lake, the provincial, prefecture and municipal Party committees and governments in Yunnan have always borne in mind General Secretary Xi’s instructions to give top priority to the protection and management of Erhai Lake and facilitate this political task diligently.  

      To sustainably improve the water quality of main streams entering the Erhai Lake, Dali Prefecture is vigorously promoting the wastewater interception project. In the project, 6 underground WWTPs will be built for nearby treatment of the intercepted industrial and domestic wastewater, thus achieving effective protection of the Erhai Lake.  

      Dali Prefecture Governor Yang Jian said in an interview that to resolutely win the “eight major battles” for the protection and management of the Erhai Lake, Dali must first fight the “wastewater interception battle”. “We’ve now built 19 WWTPs and a 4,461-km-long tertiary sewer pipe network connected with the trunk sewer to support each household,” he noted.  

      At the core of the protection and management of the Erhai Lake during the 13th Five-Year Plan, the Dali Erhai Lake wastewater Interception Project constructed by CWEG involves building the Shuanglang Underground WWTP, and has already come to an investment of RMB 16.245 billion, accounting for 81% of total planned investment and 5.8 times that of the 12th Five-Year Plan, laying a preliminary foundation for the protection and management of the Erhai Lake.

      According to Ruan Chengfa, within the river watershed, an over-3000-km-long sewer pipe network for rainwater and wastewater diversion, collection and treatment at a basic level has been preliminarily built to support households across the urban and rural areas.   

      In addition, Dali Prefecture has also taken measures to control non-point source pollution, advance the wastewater interception project, and engage more people in the protection and management of the Erhai Lake. To be specific, phosphorus and nitrogen fertilizers, and highly toxic and persistent pesticides were banned from using; the garlic planting area was decreased by more than 100,000 mu; 46 large-scale livestock and poultry farms were shut down and relocated; 1806 households nearby were relocated; and 2,498 non-compliant restaurants and inns were forced to close. 

      Looking back at 2018, the protection and management of the Erhai Lake had achieved initial success: the water quality of the Erhai Lake achieved Surface Water Quality Standard Class Ⅱ for 7 months, and Class Ⅲ for 5 months, representing the best record since 2015. Meanwhile, the water ecosystem has also been improved.  

      At the open day, Ruan Chengfa announced the phased achievements made in the protection and management of the Erhai Lake, which not only reflected Yunnan’s determination to bolster its green development by giving priority to the preservation of the Erhai Lake, but also added to its confidence to develop as the most beautiful province of China. 

      Maintaining a strategic focus: to boost the ecologically sustainable, green and high-quality development of Yunnan

      “We should maintain the determination to strengthen the protection and construction of the ecological environment and not waver, relax or open our mouth.” The remark of General Secretary Xi has provided a guideline for the protection and management of the Erhai Lake.  

      “There is a law of lake management,” said Ruan Chengfa frankly, “Pendulum Effect is likely to occur over a period of time and may last for 10, 20, 30 years or even longer when the main indicators of water quality fluctuate up and down equally. This alerts us to the chronicity of lake protection and management, prompting us to respect the law of lake management and maintain a strategically resilient focus for the longer term whilst avoiding acting recklessly.”  

      “The protection and management of the Erhai Lake is now at such a crucial point that we must fully realize its chronicity, complexity and arduousness, and intensify efforts and implement all measures more strictly,” Yang Jian pointed out, “This will be another pledge we have to make, undoubtedly”.

      To this end, first, the Dali Prefecture government should enhance its political stance and fully recognize the paramount importance of the protection and management of the Erhai Lake; second, it should make up its mind to fundamentally change the existing pattern of lake-based management to river watershed-based management, and embark on a new path of sustainable development toward Dali prosperity in terms of economic and social dimensions; third, it should eye the protection and management of the Erhai Lake as an opportunity to reversely compel the industrial transformation of Dali Prefecture, building the Erhai Lake watershed into a demonstration zone achieving high-quality and leapfrog development in Yunnan.  

      In the Erhai Lake project, CWEG serves as the private participant. According to CWEG Chairman Hou Feng, the river is an open ecosystem in which “the problem is in the water but the source of pollution is on the banks”. Therefore, the management of water environment will not be simply about carrying out a series of projects, but a chronic and complex issue of huge investment that requires the full involvement of the government, enterprise and people to supervise the project and assume their own responsibilities seriously. In this way, long-term river management across the entire PPP project can be ensured in the following decades.

     The Dali Prefecture government should take the protection and management of the Erhai Lake as a facilitator of revolutionary changes in green living and production of the Erhai Lake watershed, and combine it with industrial transformation to boost the development of smart tourism, ecological agriculture and digital agriculture as well as drive the integration of primary, secondary and tertiary industries with a new format. Also, focus should be put on building the Mt. Cangshan and Erhai Lake Scenic Resort, and turning the Erhai River watershed into a world-class tourist attraction with beautiful natural scenery, diversified ethnic customs and distinctive modern industry characteristics.  

      Chen Hao raised higher requirements on the protection and management of the Erhai Lake, saying that fighting against Erhai Lake pollution and embarking on a path reconciling ecological protection with green development still have a long way to go. The Yunnan governments at all levels should facilitate this task steadily with rock-solid confidence, perseverance and indomitable spirit.