Environmental remediation essential to success of new area, academician says
Targeted environmental standards and a smart management system will be created to clean up the Baiyangdian Lake basin - not only to restore the ecology but to boost the prosperity of Xiongan New Area - according to authorities in Hebei province.
The full nine-chapter draft for Baiyangdian (2018-35) is yet to be released to the public. It was developed by the Chinese Academy of Sciences" Research Center for Eco-Environmental Sciences, based on a philosophy of supporting the new city with wetlands in ways that are good for both, a report from China National Radio said.
The plan follows instructions from President Xi Jinping, who has paid particular attention to the new area and to the lake and its surrounding environment. During a visit to Xiongan in February 2017, Xi said that the Baiyangdian Lake basin should be restored and protected as new construction goes forward.
Dubbed North China"s "kidney", Baiyangdian covers about 360 square kilometers and embraces the largest wetland on the North China Plain.
Without Baiyangdian, Xiongan New Area will not succeed, Qu Jiuhui, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and researcher at the research center, told the radio network.
The treatment of the current pollution is one of the most urgent tasks, Zhao Yu, an associate researcher at the research center, was quoted as saying. International experience in lake basin reclamation will be sought for the lake"s governance and protection, Zhao said, adding that the lake and the eight rivers that feed it will be considered a single, integrated water ecosystem.
The plan also listed a series of policies, laws and regulations that will be drafted, and described mechanisms that will be employed for both the use and protection of Baiyangdian.
In addition to an intelligent environmental monitoring system, a smart management platform with a database and a cloud computing system that covers the entire basin, will also be established, said Zhao, adding the platform will be linked with another one designed for smart city management.
Currently, there are different standards for different types of water in China. For example, river water and treated water from sewage treatment plants are judged differently. The differences often hinder comprehensive basin reclamation, said Shan Baoqing, another researcher at the center, who said that to solve the problem, common environmental standards need to be created for the basin.
Shan said Hebei authorities have started drafting unified standards on polluting emissions, water environments and environmental monitoring.
People affect lake
Shan said some of the 40 villages surrounded by water in Baiyangdian - with some 90,000 people - will be completely or partly relocated in an orderly manner as "their living and production activities have posed great challenges to the lake".
"Environmental monitoring shows that the water quality of Baiyangdian Lake is currently affected by four key pollutants - chemical oxygen demand, ammonia nitrogen, total phosphorus and total nitrogen," Shan said. "More than 50 percent of the chemical oxygen demand and total phosphorus come from domestic wastewater and trash from villages located in and around the lake and from fish farming activities in these villages."
It"s beyond the carrying capacity of the lake environment to have so many villages and such a large population, he said, adding that the ecology of the lake cannot be restored without the relocations.
Qu Jiuhui, the academician, said some of the work of basin reclamation has been started. Under the government"s plan, priority will be given to the Fuhe and Xiaoyi rivers, as well as to the northern part of the lake near the current boundary of Xiongan.
According to the plan, Baiyangdian"s comprehensive environmental treatment and ecological restoration will be finished by 2035. By then, the water level of the lake will stand at 6.5 to 7 meters and water quality will reach Grade III to IV, the third and fourth lowest of the country"s five-tier water quality grading system.
Green land and clean water will account for 70 percent of Xiongan, according to the recently published overall plan (2018-35) for Xiongan New Area.
China announced the creation of Xiongan New Area in April 2017. Located about 100 kilometers southwest of Beijing, the new area is to take on Beijing"s noncapital functions.
President Xi, who is also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, has stressed the importance of Xiongan on various high-profile occasions.
In his report delivered at the CPC"s 19th National Congress in October 2017, Xi said: "We will develop forward-looking plans and adopt high standards for building the Xiongan New Area."
The master plan document approved by China"s central authorities in April referred to the new area as "a strategic decision with profound historic significance". It follows other significant developments, such as the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone and Shanghai Pudong New Area.
It"s "a strategy that will have lasting importance for the millennium to come", the plan said.