Baiyangdian water quality improves
Aerial photo taken on Aug. 14, 2021 shows the scenery of Baiyangdian Lake in north China's Hebei Province. [Photo/Xinhua]
Pollution control, environment action help restore freshwater wetland
Baiyangdian Lake, northern China's largest freshwater wetland, has seen its water reach its best quality in the past three decades, as the country forges ahead with the construction of the Xiong'an New Area.
Dubbed North China's "kidney", Baiyangdian covers about 360 square kilometers of the new area, which was established in 2017 in Hebei province to advance the coordinated development of the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region.
In 2018, water in the lake was rated at or even below Grade V, which is the worst level in the country's five-tier quality system for surface water. Environmental authorities often use below Grade V to describe an even worse water pollution situation.
Water quality in the lake reached Grade III last year, according to the department of ecology and environment in Xiong'an. The water body saw its water quality stay at the same level from January to May, but the concentration of major pollutants in it went down by over 30 percent year-on-year.
"It's the best quality on record since 1988 when monitoring started in the lake," the department said.
The improvement happened thanks to the great importance Hebei provincial authorities have attached to the environmental management of the lake.
To ramp up pollution control, the province established a leading group headed by its governor.
Consisting of senior officials from 12 provincial departments and seven cities with rivers that empty into Baiyangdian, the group holds regular consultations to coordinate work on environmental governance.
The province has beefed up the control of industrial, domestic and agricultural pollution sources as it makes resolute efforts to "avoid even a single drop of sewage from entering Baiyangdian", the department said.
Aside from shutting down poorly-managed, small polluting enterprises, the province has also made great endeavors to transform major enterprises with cleaner production technologies and also move factories discharging sewage into industrial parks that have complete sewage disposal facilities, it noted.
It said 47 new wastewater treatment plants have been built in urban areas in the basin, increasing daily sewage disposal capacity by over 2.2 million metric tons.
All wastewater generated in the 103 villages located in or around Baiyangdian is now collected for concentrate disposal, it said.
There are currently 59 sewage disposal stations for the 39 villages within the lake area, and instead of being discharged into the lake, all wastewater from villages in Baiyangdian is diverted away from the lake for use after being treated.
With the improvement of the water quality, Baiyangdian has seen many birds return.
According to the department, there are now 237 wild bird species in Baiyangdian, 31 more than before the new area was established.
A native bird conservation volunteer from a village near the lake in Anxin county, Han Zhanqiao is keenly aware of the encouraging changes.
"When I was a child, I would often see swans and mallards on Baiyangdian Lake. But then the water quality deteriorated and the birds disappeared," the 48-year-old told Xinhua News Agency.
Han said he is happy to see that many birds are coming back. "It was terrific to meet those old friends again."