Dredging Slated for Hangzhou’s West Lake

A comprehensive environmental protection project aimed at restoring the ecological balance of West Lake, a well-known scenic spot located in Hangzhou

in East China's Zhejiang Province, is planned over the coming years, beginning in September, according to a China Daily report.

The picturesque lake, which once charmed Marco Polo with its emerald green, is clogged up and bulging at its seams with silt and mud that have built up over the years.

The average depth of the lake has decreased to 1.65 meters, whereas the average depth of the silt has reached a stunning half meter.

The silt and mud accumulated over past decades have taken their toll on the health of West Lake, which has yet to reach the C-level standard the country sets for waters within scenic spots and recreational facilities.

The surface layer of the bottom silt floats on the waves when stirred by cruising boats on the lake, making the water appear filthy and murky.

Further silt deposits or other types of deterioration of the lake will not be tolerated.

"In addition to the large-scale dredging scheduled to begin in September, we will launch a comprehensive treatment program in the coming years so as to restore the ecological balance of West Lake," said Ding Shuigen, director of the Administration Office of West Lake.

The local government will put more than 160 million yuan (US$19.27 million) into the program.

According to the dredging plan, the fluid and semi-fluid silt will be pumped out and relayed to the Long Bridge on the southern bank of the lake through underwater pipes. Then, it will be transferred to the dumping site in Jiangyangfan Valley to be treated by bio-chemical means.

Some equipment to be used in the project was newly imported from Holland and is environment-friendly, said Ding.

An estimated 1.6 million cubic meters of silt and mud will be removed from the lake.

Once the dredging is completed, the average depth of the lake will reach 2.15 meters, and the quality of its water will meet the higher B-level standards.

Since West Lake is a shallow, semi-closed lagoon with limited self-sustaining capacity, water from the Qiangtang River will be channeled to activate water in the lake.

The core of the plan is to set aside tracts of lands to the west of the lake as man-made wetland, said Wu.

"The wetland is the kidney of the water bodies. Establishing wetland reserves around the lake is of vital importance in restoring the ecological balance of West Lake," echoed Zhou Guoning, chief engineer with Hangzhou Blue Sky Gardening Company, considered the most prestigious gardening company in Hangzhou.

According to Wu, large numbers of hydrophytes, including wild rice, pampas grass and sweet flag, will be planted on the wetland.

(CIIC 07/26/2001)

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