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Water Environment Treatment of Lihu Lake in Wuxi: Effectiveness and Lessons Learned
Source: GFHS | Author: gfhsforum | Publish time: 2020-06-02 | 242 Views | Share:

Abstract: Lihu Lake is an internal lake of Taihu Lake set in Wuxi city. It has been a natural hub regulating Wuxi surface water from of old. Ever since 1970s, owing to reclaiming land from lake, and ponding for raising fish, plus impropriate development in the coastal area, Lihu Lake had been turned to one of the most polluted areas in the Taihu Lake. The water quality was constantly at poor V category and the eco-environment was rapidly deteriorating. Ever since 2002, Wuxi Municipality highly resolved to completely implement the Lihu Water Environment Project, with the principle of “Scientific Treatment and Comprehensive Treatment”. And in only a few years, the Lihu Lake water pollution has been effectively controlled; ecological situation has recovered and each environment index has been improved and reached 2010 State Appraisal Goal. Now, Lihu Lake has coruscated vitality of the elegant water-bounded town in the southern Yangtze valley, and it has become an icon of the Wuxi City Building. The Lihu Lake Water Environment Comprehensive Treatment provides important references for the Taihu Comprehensive Treatment.

water environment, pollution, treatment, lesson

             Wonderful Scenery at Lihu Lake        Photo source: Wuxi Municipal Ecology and Environment Bureau

A Cleaner Lihu Lake: The Biggest Pride of Wuxi

Lihu Lake, once the pride and asset of Wuxi, was known for its picturesque scenery and talented people. However, after a long period of unreasonable development, the once beautiful and clear lake got a foul odor with water deterioration and cyanobacteria accumulation. It became the pain of Wuxi.

Let’s take a look at the water environment of Lihu Lake before comprehensive treatment was taken. Nian Yuegang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Environmental Sciences, has long been committed to follow-up research on water environment management. He described the deterioration of the ecological environment of the lake with facts in five aspects. First, Lihu Lake was the area with the worst sediment pollution from Taihu Lake. Its water was merely two meters deep while the silt under was 0.6-0.8 meters thick with a volume of about 3.6 million cubic meters. Second, Lihu Lake was the area with the worst water pollution from Taihu Lake. Since it runs through the urban area of Wuxi, a large amount of inferior Class V sewage from rivers like the Liangxi River, the Mali River, the Caowang River and the Lixi River flew into the lake, which caused heavy water pollution. Third, the ecosystem of Lihu Lake was seriously degraded. The submerged plants that had once thrived in the lake were almost extinct due to worsening water pollution. Fourth, the area of Lihu Lake was shrinking as the pollution was worsening. The water surface was reduced from 9.5 square kilometers to 6.4 square kilometers, which resulted in decreasing water capacity and self-purification capacity. Also, secondary pollution was exacerbated by planting and breeding activities in the lake. Fifth, the lake shore lost the suitable habitat conditions for aquatic plants. More than 90 percent of the lake shore was surrounded by masonry stones. It was difficult for aquatic plants to grow along such a steep shore with rapids.

Lihu scenery

 Photo source: Wuxi Municipal Ecology and Environment Bureau

To make Lihu Lake clear again and live up to its reputation as the “pearl of Taihu Lake”—this was not only the ardent expectation of the people in Wuxi, but also an important decision made by the CPC Wuxi Municipal Committee and Wuxi Municipal Government for city economic development. In 2002, with great determination, Wuxi Mulnicipal Government set up the Leading Group for Planning and Construction of Lihu Lake Area, a cross-departmental committee mainly led by the senior members of the municipal government, to start a major battle for the comprehensive improvement of Lihu Lake with gathered strength all around the city. After more than five years of hard work, satisfactory results were achieved. Scattered enterprises and residential areas along the shore that had directly discharged sewage disappeared. Sewage pouring into the lake was intercepted. Silt was finally removed after decades of effort. Water surface area increased by 41 percent. High-standard shelter belts and ecological parks were established along the bank. The Project on Water Pollution Control and Water Body Restoration Technology of Taihu Lake, one of the national “Tenth Five-Year Plan” science and technology projects, was successfully implemented during the treatment of the lake. The main indicators of national lake water quality assessment, namely permanganate index, total phosphorus and total nitrogen, showed a year-on-year downward trend respectively from 7.5, 0.14 and 6.11 in 2002 to 3.9, 0.055 and 1.34 in the first half of this year. The ecological restoration project has achieved initial results. The coverage rate of aquatic vegetation in the western part of Lihu Lake was restored to more than 30 percent. The visibility of lake water increased from 20 centimeters to 80 centimeters. All that indicated the progress of the purification capacity and stability of the lake’s ecosystem. At present, the dissolved oxygen and ammonia nitrogen indexes meet the standard of Class I water. The permanganate index reaches the standard of Class III water. The total nitrogen and total phosphorus indexes meet the standards of Class III or IV water. The eutrophication index shows a general downward trend. The above statistics satisfy the requirements of the national assessment targets for 2010 in advance.

Strolling on the shady roads along Lihu Lake, one can enjoy the view of the green mountains afar and the sparkling water nearby, the singing of birds and the fragrant of flowers. The beautiful lake has become the asset and pride of the locals in Wuxi again. The green belt around the lake has become an open park where citizens can relax. The flourishing mountains, the clear water and the public facilities all make the area a good place for investors to initiate their grand plans. The effective improvement of the lake’s water environment has aroused great attention from all walks of life and even international organizations. During their multiple visits to Wuxi, officials of the United Nations have fully acknowledged the achievements of the ecological development of Lihu Lake and authorized it as an ecological demonstration area and an ecological education base of the United Nations. In September 2006, the United Nations Environment Program set up in Wuxi part of the courses of the Third Asia-Pacific Leadership Program on Environment for Sustainable Development, with Lihu Lake serving as a base for internship. Leaders of the CPC and the Chinese government have visited the lake many times. They spoke highly of the comprehensive improvement of its water environment and called for promoting its successful experience. Undoubtedly, Lihu Lake has become a beautiful icon of the ecological civilization construction in Wuxi and the biggest highlight of the urban construction of the city in recent years.

The Sixth Annual Session of Global Forum on Human Settlements (GFHS 2009)
held in Taihu Hotel, Wuxi City, November, 2009

Five Main Projects: Searching for Effective Methods for Comprehensive Treatment

It is the solemn commitment of the Wuxi Municipal Party Committee and Wuxi Municipal Government to the people to completely eradicate the pollution in Lihu Lake and restore its charm and vitality. Based on systematic investigation and careful study of the treatment experiences of freshwater lakes at home and abroad, the authorities put forward the basic principles of “scientific and comprehensive water treatment” and took the comprehensive treatment of Lihu Lake as the first phase of the water environment improvement project of Taihu Lake and Meilianghu Lake. Since 2002, in accordance with the idea of “removing silt, intercepting sewage, regulating water and restoring ecology”, five major projects have been fully implemented, including ecological dredging, sewage interception, fishing restriction, ecological restoration, lakeside improvement and forest belt construction around the lake. That has also served as an effective methodology for the comprehensive treatment of Taihu Lake.

Sewage interception project. Controlling the inflow of sewage from the source was the top priority for cutting the pollution to Lihu Lake. While the roads were under construction along the lake, 75 kilometers of main pipes and 67 kilometers of branch pipes were being laid in order to intercept sewage. With the pipes, about 55,000 tons of sewage was intercepted on average every day and treated in the urban sewage treatment plant. With determination, the authorities relocated the residents and industrial enterprises that were within a range of 50 to 250 meters to the lake along the 36-kilometer bank in order to cut off the sources of pollution. Meanwhile, in all of the 11 main river crossings where the sewage had not yet been intercepted, water-gates were built to actually prevent sewage from flowing into Lihu Lake.

Ecological dredging project. The thick silt with large amount of total phosphorus, total nitrogen and organic matters was a major source of internal pollution of the lake. In May 2002, a systematic ecological dredging project started with the help of an environmentally friendly cutter suction dredger introduced from the Netherlands, coupled with a special cutter blade for lake environmental protection and an advanced satellite positioning system. By the end of the year, the dredging area reached 5.4 square kilometers, with an average dredging thickness of 0.5 meters and a total volume of 2.48 million cubic meters.

The distinguished guests planted the "Ecological Forest of GFHS 2009" on the shore of Taihu Lake 
to commemorate this successful meeting, November 2009

Fishing restriction project. The lake was reclaimed for farming and fishing to produce grain, fish and poultry, but that caused lots of pollution. Since July 2002, the authorities have, within one year, cleared 3,282 mu (2.188 million square meters) of reclaimed fish ponds and cofferdams and excavated and transported 2.255 million cubic meters of earth and stones. Meanwhile, 47 enterprises and 5 households were relocated, with 81,000 square meters of buildings demolished and 1,972 employees arranged. Thanks to the project, the water surface area of the lake has expanded from 6.4 square kilometers to 9.0 square kilometers, resulting in a significant increase of water capacity. Also, the self-purification capacity of the water body has been improved.

Ecological restoration project. With the application of the Project on Water Pollution Control and Water Body Restoration, a demonstration project of China’s “863 Program” (State High-Tech Development Program), the plant chain and the biological chain of the lake have been reconstructed. In the project, emergent aquatic plants and floating leaf plants were planted in the first place to absorb nitrogen and phosphorus in the lake to improve the clarity and transparency of the water; then submerged plants were adopted for filtering to improve the water quality. At the same time, fish and snails were bred for biological purification. Since 2003, in the western part of Lihu Lake, the local authorities have planted more than 5 million submerged, emergent and floating plants (the seeds of submerged plants weighted 138 kilograms), and put in more than 50 tons of snails, mussels and maggots and 160,000 chub fry and catfish fry. The repaired area reached 981.8 thousand square meters. From the testing results, the western part has seen more significant improvement in water quality and better restoration of biodiversity.

Lakeside treatment and forest belt construction project. Structural adjustment was regarded as fundamental for the treatment of the lake. Therefore, resolute efforts were made to crack down on small companies in the sectors of chemical, steel, cement, electroplating, and printing & dyeing, and enterprises featuring high consumption, high pollution, high risk, low output and low efficiency, so as to upgrade the industrial structure and optimize the layout of productivity. In conjunction with the lakeside treatment, the local authorities actively adjusted the agricultural planting structure and invested in the construction of an ecological forest belt, or a conservation forest, around the lake. Since 2002, the local authorities have relocated 289 enterprises along the lake with an area of 356,000 square meters and 1,860 households with an area of 321,000 square meters, and created 3.314 million square meters of ecological woods around the lake. The smooth implementation of the project has effectively controlled agricultural non-point source pollution, industrial wastewater pollution and domestic sewage pollution. The ecological benefits of the project are being reaped.

Egrets and red lotus

 Photo source: Wuxi Municipal Ecology and Environment Bureau

Environment is an Asset: Solving the Difficulty of Pollution Control with Environment Operation

Environmental protection and ecological construction have long since been regarded as public welfare undertakings and inputs are all taken over by the government. Although the inputs of governments at all levels are increasing year by year, generally, it is still difficult to meet the growing needs of environmental protection. How can we deal with the capital bottlenecks and constraints in environmental protection and ecological construction? In the process of the conservation of Lihu Lake, the local authorities of Wuxi gradually reached the consensus that “Environment is a valuable asset.” With government funds playing a leading role, market mechanisms were actively introduced. The idea of operating environment was used to solve the difficulty of pollution control. A new path of “increasing investment in pollution control, enhancing ecological value, realizing land value enhancement and continuously improving the environment” was found and became a “win-win” solution to environmental protection and economic development.

The treatment of Lihu Lake was a complex systematic project with high difficulty and large investment. It was estimated that more than 5 billion yuan would need to be raised to fully implement the water environment treatment project. Such a huge investment once caused doubts about the project. Therefore, the local authorities actively innovated their ideas and took environment operation as a means. In this way, environmental factors were regarded as important social capital. By optimizing ecological environment, environmental factors appreciated. Gradually, a new model of environmental protection investment and repayment was explored. To this end, the government established an efficient fund operation platform, set up the main body of loan repayment, perfected loan approval procedures, and standardized fund application system. In the fund-raising process, in addition to actively seeking national and provincial financial support, the government also received 1.45 billion yuan in loans from the National Development Bank and more than 2 billion yuan in supporting funds in the city. With the successive release of various funds, the comprehensive treatment project began. The smooth implementation of the project has not only gradually improved the water quality, landscape quality and ecological value of the lake, but also ameliorated the urban investment environment, promoted the development of tourism, trade, software and other service industries, and facilitated the significant appreciation of land factors around the area. Since 2003, Wuxi has developed two parcels of land on a restricted basis in Lihu Lake New Town: the auction price of Land No.1 (682 mu, or around 454,667 square meters) climbed from 958 million yuan to 1.614 billion yuan, while Land No.2 (1,000 mu, or around 666,667 square meters) was successfully sold at the price of 3 billion yuan, more than 10 times of that before the treatment project. For more than five years of the treatment project, the government actually did not spend a penny, as the market operations not only covered the initial investment, but also provided the government with more funds for environment construction.

Dr. Noel Brown, Vice Chairman of GFHS visited China (Wuxi) Water Saving and Water Treatment 
Technology and Equipment Exhibition (GFHS 2009’s associated event)  

Operating environment is not merely for economic benefits and merely not for selling lands for money. In the process of the treatment project, the local authorities seriously implemented the policy of prioritizing environmental protection, starting from the overall goal of building an eco-city with beautiful landscapes and waters where people and nature could coexist harmoniously, and always putting the promotion of ecological value first. Since 2002, in order to ensure the smooth progress of the treatment project, the municipal government has decisively suspended land supply and the transfer, lease and mortgage of land use rights for construction projects within 20 square kilometers of Lihu Lake area, and published official notices requesting land management departments at all levels to suspend relevant procedures for the progress of ecological planning. For more than five years, except for some limited functional development of a small number of plots in the planning area in accordance with requirements, large-scale operational development of the plots around the lake was strictly prohibited. The Wuxi Municipal Party Committee and the Municipal Government clearly requested that the funds for the treatment project should not be balanced just within Lihu Lake area, but should be arranged as a whole by the municipal government and balanced at the city level.

The government as “the tangible hand” leverages the market as “the invisible hand”—this was not only used in the water environment treatment of Lihu Lake, but also promoted environmental protection in Wuxi. In recent years, Wuxi has adjusted the tap water price four times. The tap water price in the urban area has been adjusted to 2.57 yuan/ton, of which the sewage treatment fee has been increased to 1.1 yuan/ton, which has facilitated social management and industrial development for sewage treatment plants. At the same time, government subsidies and other stimulants have been provided to mobilize investments from all sectors of society and foreign investments in the construction of sewage treatment plants, which has promoted the market-oriented operation of the sewage treatment industry. At present, there are 20 sewage treatment plants in Wuxi, of which 10 are invested by social capital, accounting for 50 percent.


People-centered Approach: Sharing the Benefits of Environment Treatment

The fundamental purpose of environmental protection and ecological construction is to enable the people to fully enjoy the comprehensive benefits of ecological improvement. In the process of treating the lake, the Wuxi Municipal Party Committee and Wuxi Municipal Government always adhered to the guiding principle of being people-oriented and improving landscape for the people. The local authorities put the interests of the people first, mobilized the public extensively, fully relied on them, and properly handled matters concerning the vital interests of the people, which garnered the support of the general public and realized the harmony between man and nature.

During the treatment of Lihu Lake, how to maximize the fundamental interests of those suffering from the loss of lands, enterprises or houses was a prominent issue related to the smooth progress of the treatment project. The Wuxi Municipal Party Committee and Wuxi Municipal Government held in their hearts the concerns of the people. Therefore, “one standard and four major policies” were implemented decisively. “One standard” means a unified compensation standard was used for demolitions and resettlement, be it road demolition, greening demolition, or development demolition. Such a method was applied to eliminating the negative impacts to maintain social stability if different policies had been used due to land, projects and time differences. The “four major policies” were as follows: 1. All the 5,500 land-lost farmers are included in the urban social security system, with an average expenditure of 55,000 yuan per person, to completely solve their worries. 2. Any farmers who have lost their houses will be housed in residential districts under unified city planning. The resettlement houses will be built in the best location by the lake. The planned construction area is 1.2 million square meters, of which 700,000 square meters have been delivered. 3. Five percent of the expropriated lands are left to the former villages or towns and can be developed by them in accordance with the planning requirements for legacy issues and employment. 4. All the unemployed of enterprises being closed are included in the urban employment system. Villagers can enjoy the same employment treatments as urban citizens and get free training provided by labor and social security departments. Local villagers and farmers will get priority to the new management and service positions after the treatment of Lihu Lake is completed.

The formulation and implementation of the above policies received strong support of the people. After the completion of the first batch of resettlement houses, news came that the earlier one submitted the key of their old house, the earlier they could select a new one. On the very first night of the completion of the resettlement houses, more than 200 households lined up to hand in their keys. They said: “We were afraid of demolition in the past but now we want it so badly.” Why? Because Lihu Lake had really changed with good environment, fresh air, nice transportation, stable job and stable income. That’s why everyone was happy to relocate here. Last year, when the Premier Wen was visiting the settlement houses, the local residents surrounded him closely and spontaneously shouted out their sincere gratitude to the Party and the government, “The Communist Party is great. The People’s Government is great.”

What’s even more praiseworthy is that while people are fully enjoying the benefits of improving the environment of the lake, they are more consciously involved in the process of environmental protection and ecological development. When citizen Luo Haoping heard that the Causeway of the lake might be demolished, he immediately wrote to the department concerned, saying that the Causeway “should not be demolished but widened. In addition, several stone bridges should be built. Flowers and willows should be planted. It will be similar to the White Causeway of West Lake in Hangzhou.” His suggestions were accepted and adopted by the construction department of the lake. Yuren Houseware Co., Ltd. is an investment-inviting enterprise in Liyuan Village. Just after the factory building was completed, the demolition project started. Xia Guoliang, General Manager of the company, actively responded to the government’s call and took the initiative to relocate the enterprise as his own “social responsibility”. Ma Zhiyuan, an elementary school student, wrote a letter to the mayor with excitement after seeing the pretty blooms around the lake, saying with pride, “I love Wuxi. I love the beautiful Taihu Lake even more. I will study harder from now on to protect my mother lake and make my hometown more beautiful and more developed.” The extensive participation and the strong support of the public are the greatest praise for the improvement of Lihu Lake in recent years and further strengthen our determination and confidence in the comprehensive treatment of Taihu Lake.



Cultural Inheritance: An Important Mission in the Environment Treatment of Lihu lake

Lihu Lake is a combination of nature, ecology, history and culture. It is said that in the Spring and Autumn Period in the Chinese history, Fan Li, an official of the Kingdom of Yue, rowed on the lake with Xishi and wrote down the very first book on fish breeding in China and in the world. In the late Eastern Han Dynasty, Zhang Bo led his fellows to dig through Puling Mountain and Dushan Mountain to connect Taihu Lake and Lihu Lake, making Wuxi a fertile land during droughts or floods. In the Ming Dynasty, Gao Panlong, a member of the Donglin Party, gave up his post and returned to Wuxi. He read and lived in a small sand bar on the bank of Lihu Lake and built the Kelou House, a waterside residence. In modern times, industrialists represented by the Rong brothers, Rong Desheng and Rong Zongjing, built bridges, roads, gardens and forests, and established schools to benefit their native land. The three famous painters in the history of Wuxi, Gu Kaizhi in the Eastern Jin Dynasty, Ni Yunlin in the late Yuan Dynasty, and Wang Fu in the Ming Dynasty, were charmed by the scenery of the lake and created a large number of handed-down masterpieces of it.

During the mangement of Lihu Lake, it was an important task to discover, develop and inherit the history and culture of the lake while conducting environmental protection and ecological construction, so as to promote an organic unification of ecological construction and cultural inheritance. The Wuxi Municipal Party Committee and Wuxi Municipal Government highlighted the profound history and culture of Lihu Lake and put forward and permeated the concept of “Cultural Lihu Lake” from the beginning to the end. First, a special cultural planning office was set up. It was responsible for the discovery, data collection and promotion of the culture of the lake and the preparation, planning, organization and implementation of cultural projects. Second, a general scheme for the cultural development of the lake was formulated. The old mode that cultural development came after the completion of construction was changed. Instead, engineering design and cultural planning were combined, while construction and culture-related projects were conducted alternately. The office frequently held meetings for people in the cultural circle to gather opinions and ideas. In this way, ideas, elements and even initiatives related to culture were integrated into planning and construction, forming an overall concept of the cultural development of Lihu Lake. Third, focusing on the overall concept, a number of distinctive cultural projects were developed. Here are some examples:

Yufu Island (In Chinese, Yufu means the father of fish breeding). With an area of 7 hectares, the island is located to the east of Huanhu Road. Legend has it that in the Spring and Autumn Period, Fan Li lived here in seclusion with Xishi and wrote The Book on Fish Breeding. Fan was respected as the father of fish breeding, hence the name of the island. On the island, one can find scenic spots like Yufu Bridge, Xidi Causeway and Lidi Causeway. On the Lidi Causeway, there are many bridges, such as Zhuoren Bridge, Lianyu Bridge, Letao Bridge, Shanjia Bridge, General Corridor Bridge, and pavilions, such as Yesheng Pavilion, Guizhou Pavilion, Liye Pavilion and Yewang Pavilion. Moreover, new spots such as a sculpture of Fan Li writing The Book on Fish Breeding and a stone tablet inscribed with the book can also be found. Steeped in the culture of fish breeding, Yufu Island and Lidi Causeway are where visitors can feel immersed in the culture.

Bogong Island (Bogong is the honorific title of Zhang Bo). The island is located to the south of Daxing Bridge on Huanhu Road, covering an area of 37 hectares. It is a scenic spot featuring the legend of Zhang Bo, the master of water treatment. It is also part of the “863” Project on Sewage Control and Water Body Restoration of Taihu Lak and the Project on Water Transfer of Meiliang Lake. On the island stands an eco-park with ecological, cultural and hydraulic functions. The scenic spots in the park, like pavilions, platforms, towers, halls, porches, water pavilions and corridors, are all named after the folk legends of Zhang’s water treatment. Among them, Wangtian Pavilion, Guanshui Pavilion and Liuyun Pavilion vividly reproduce the scene of Zhang observing the sky and investigating the water situation during water treatment, which represents the rich and profound culture featuring Zhang’s water treatment.

Xishi Village. Covering an area of 3 hectares, the village is on the artificial island in the east of Lihu Lake. Paired with Yufu Island in the west of the lake, the village present the scenes of Fan Li and Xishi’s secluded life by Lihu Lake, such as teaching the locals singing and dancing, making ceramics, breeding fish, making alcohol and spinning. Visitors can enjoy an immersive experience of the ancient life through the elaborate design of the opera stage, the Taozhu Mansion, the boats and the embroidery house. Visitors can also take a boat on the lake for sightseeing just like the ancient people did. With the planning and construction of the village, the life in folk legends that were out of reach in the past are now vividly displayed in front of everyone.

Gaozi Memorial Hall. Located near the original site of Kelou House where Gao Panlong (Gaozi) read in seclusion, the hall stands in Jinlong Bay in the east of the Lihu Lake area. In the hall, there are Gao’s works such as poems and couplets, and other precious originals that fully embody his ideas that “scholars should be responsible for the country”, “one should care for the fate of his country, be close to the people and learn for the truth”, and “good knowledge should be acquired through practice”. Around the hall lies the Shuiju Garden, which integrates ancient and modern cultural attractions with 10-odd scenic spots, such as Wuke Tower, a stone sculpture of Gao Panlong, a corridor of Gao’s calligraphy and paintings, a wall introducing Gao’s life, Yuepo Platform, Jingyi Pavilion, Yucong Pavilion and Gaofeng Waterside Pavilion. The garden has become a new cultural attraction of Lihu Lake.

In addition, in the Liyuan Garden in the east of the Lihu Lake area, a tourist attraction featuring Baojie Bridge and Shuanghong Garden, has been developed in memory of the good deeds done by the Rong family to their native land. In Guanshe Mountain, patriotism education bases have been built, featuring Yang Ziyuan, a righteous name in the late Ming Dynasty, and his descendants Yang Weiyuan and Yang Ling, supplemented by scenic spots like Wanqin Temple (originally the Xiangwang Temple), Yumeiren Cliff and Zhumei Pavilion. While promoting traditional culture, diversified cultural elements should also be absorbed. With the theme of Taihu Lake culture, Lihu Lake Park was built. In the park, the watercolor paintings and the oil paintings of Cheng ji in Cheng Ji Art Gallery showcase a mix of Chinese and Western painting techniques. Strolling along Shuijing Corridor, a corridor of culture, one can enjoy the poetry, songs, calligraphy and paintings about the beauty of Taihu Lake and Lihu Lake which were created over 1,000 years ago. In addition, there are also Lihu Lake Central Park with European culture as the theme, Asian Cultural Park with animation culture as the theme and Daqiao Park with bridge culture as the theme. All of them enrich the culture of Lihu Lake in different aspects.


Firm Confidence: A better Taihu Lake

At present, the prevention and control of water pollution in Taihu Lake is under steady and effective progress. Generally speaking, the water quality of the lake is of inferior Class
. The concentration of nutrient salts fluctuates dramatically for a long time, which has resulted in the “algae-type habitat conditions”. All of the facts show that the situation of water pollution prevention and management is very severe. However, it should be noted that, prior to the comprehensive improvement, the state of the water environment of Lihu Lake was much worse than that of the current Taihu Lake. Thanks to common understanding, effective measures and proper investments, in just a few years, the treatment of the lake has achieved positive results. Therefore, we must boost our confidence, earnestly learn our lessons from the useful experience of the management of Lihu Lake and actively create conditions to fight the battle of water pollution in Taihu Lake with resolution, so that we can restore the beauty of Taihu Lake with clear water, and make it shine as the “Pearl to the south of the Yangtze River”.

GFHS’s Participants visited China (Wuxi) Water Saving and Water Treatment
Technology and Equipment Exhibition (GFHS 2009’s associated event) 
Photo credit by @ GFHS

Lesson 1: Keeping unwavering determination to fight pollution with all our might. During the treatment of Lihu Lake, a series of effective measures were taken: resolutely cleaning up point source pollution, determinedly shutting down polluting enterprises, and completely relocating residential areas; comprehensively cutting off sources of pollution and truly preventing the lake from sewage by laying sewage interception pipelines and managing rivers flowing into the lake; implementing fishing restriction and adjusting agricultural structure to effectively control agricultural non-point source pollution; strengthening ecological dredging and effectively reducing internal source pollution; and adhering to strict law enforcement and supervision to thoroughly investigate every problem without tolerance. According to the authorities of Wuxi, the implementation of new measures for pollution control would not work without firm determination, discipline, assessment and punishment. Therefore, the local authorities should be determined to control and intercept pollution sources and would not relax on the iron-fisted pollution control even at the cost of some immediate benefits or some local sacrifices. Only in this way, can we truly advance the progress of water pollution prevention and achieve a fundamental improvement in the water environment of Taihu Lake.

Lesson 2: Adhering to the principle of scientific water treatment. On the basis of a careful summary of previous treatment practices of Lihu Lake, the Wuxi Municipal Party Committee and Wuxi Municipal Government firmly believe that only by upholding the principle of scientific water treatment and truly acting in accordance with objective laws, can the treatment of water pollution be more effective. First, highlighting scientific decisions. The local authorities learned from the experience of lake management in various countries in the world, extensively listened to the opinions and suggestions of experts, scholars and the public, and hired a world-renowned landscape design company to make a conceptual plan, starting the pollution control work on the basis of scientific decisions in the first place. Second, applying scientific methods. Under the principle of systematic and comprehensive management, in accordance with the procedures of “desilting, intercepting sewage, regulating water and restoring ecology”, six major projects have been implemented where various natural and social resources have been integrated, which has led to the implementation of a scientific method of treating lake pollution. Third, strengthening scientific and technological support. During the treatment of Lihu Lake, scientific and technological achievements, such as the Project on Water Pollution Control and Water Body Restoration Technology of China’s “863 Program”, were actively used to rebuild the biological chain and the plant chain of the lake and restore its ecosystem. Nevertheless, in the field of water pollution prevention and control, many more technological difficulties need to be tackled. Therefore, further investments must be put for enhancing technology and accelerating scientific and technological innovation.

Lesson 3: Insisting on the idea of environment operation. The experience of using market mechanism to control pollution in Wuxi shows that the environment has natural attributes as well as commodity attributes and that the environment is not only resources, but also social assets that can be made good use of. As long as scientific planning and careful management are put in place, environmental capital can realize greater value. Just in a few years, Wuxi has not only greatly improved the ecological quality by treating Lihu Lake, but also created considerable economic benefits. More importantly, the continuous environmental management has formed a virtuous cycle mechanism to improve the environment so that the municipal government can devote more financial capacity and mobilize more resources to environmental protection and ecological construction. It is reported that due to the tangible results of the improvement of Lihu Lake, the cooperation between China Development Bank or international organizations and Wuxi is deepening. This tells us that environmental protection and economic development are not in irreconcilable conflict. As long as they are handled properly, mutual promotion and coordinated development can be realized.

Lesson 4: Adhering to the people-centered approach. It was the starting point and purpose of the water environment treatment of Lihu Lake to stick to the people-centered development approach and let the fruits of environmental protection and ecological construction benefit all people. The local authorities have made every endeavor to make the area beautiful again with more greenness for people and for their well-being. The 36-kilometer-long and 80-to-250-meter-wide lakeside area has been built as an urban living space for both citizens and tourists in the form of a large park that is open free of charge all day. The ideal of “high threshold for construction projects and no entry limit to citizens and tourists” has been achieved. The local authorities have made every effort to protect the fundamental interests of residents who lost their lands, businesses and houses. Through the implementation of “one standard” and “four major policies”, the interests that people are most concerned about have been solved properly. The benefits given to the people have greatly facilitated social stability and the smooth implementation of the project. More importantly, inspired deeply by the management of Lihu Lake, more citizens have taken part in environmental improvement, which has gradually formed a strong joint force of all walks of life for environmental protection and ecological construction

Lesson 5: Persisting in the mission of cultural inheritance. The people of Wuxi said that a city without cultural substance would lose its vitality. Only by combing beautiful landscapes and rich history and culture, can the taste and influence of city construction be improved. During the process of the comprehensive improvement of Lihu Lake, Wuxi firmly upheld the mission of “history and culture inheritance” and combined ecological restoration with cultural restoration. Therefore, the local authorities carefully searched for the traces of Lihu Lake culture, rediscovered its historical value and vigorously promoted its uniqueness. As as result, a series of distinctive projects with unique cultural substance have been developed, which has allowed the long forgotten culture of Lihu Lake reach out to the public. Such culture is often mentioned with excitement in the conversions of citizens and tourists and is good for the morality cultivation of all. Today’s Lihu Lake not only boasts clear water, beautiful mountains and attractive scenery, but also appears more splendid, more profound and more intriguing, shinning with the charm of culture. “Fan Li and Xishi rowed on Lihu Lake in the past. Now the lake has become a gathering place for tourists from every corner of the world.” Culture makes the lake more dazzling, more charming and more lingering. (Research members: Gao Pu, Xu Jinyuan, Gao Hailong)

Article and photos by Research group of Research Office of Jiangsu Provincial People's Government (September 2009)

Brief Introduction of Lihu Lake  

Lihu Lake, originally called Wuli Lake, is also known as Qihu Lake or Xiaowu Lake. It got the name of Lihu due to its gourd scoop-shaped water surface (“Li” originally means gourd scoop in Chinese). By the end of the Ming Dynasty, rumor came from the literacy circle that Fan Li and Xishi in the Spring and Autumn Period rowed on the lake. Lihu Lake is located in the southwest of Wuxi, covering an water area of 8.6 square kilometers. It is an inner lake of Taihu Lake and its southeast part is connected to Taihu Lake by the 10-kilometer-long Changguangi River.   

On the south shore of Lihu Lake stands Baojie Mountain, also known as Zhushan Mountain, where several movie and television production bases of CCTV are located, such as City of the Tang Dynasty, City of Three Kongdoms and City of Water Margin. On the north shore, there are the Liyuan Garden, the Lihu Lake Central Park and the Asia Town. Baojie Bridge, donated by the famous industrialists Rong Zongjing and Rong Desheng, lies across the lake. The 300-odd--meter-long bridge separates the east and the west parts of the lake. On the east shore, there are the ruins of Gaozi’s waterside residence, where Gao Panlong, a member of the Donglin Party in the late Ming Dynasty, lived and studied in seclusion. The Changguangxi River Wetland Park is located to the southeast of the lake, while Yuantouzhu Park, a main tourist attraction of Taihu Lake, a national key scenic spot, to the southwest.