A man moors his boat among the weeds in Hebei Province's Baiyangdian wetland. Photo: IC
Since China established the Xiongan New Area
in Hebei Province as a national development strategy, Baiyangdian, North China's largest freshwater wetland which lies within the new area, has been offered fresh opportunities for ecological rehabilitation.
Last Wednesday, following the official announcement of the new area, two reservoirs began to refill Baiyangdian, which has been suffering from a chronic lack of water and pollution.
The water diversion will last for two months, during which 33 million cubic meters of first-class quality water will be pumped into Baiyangdian from the Wangkuai and Xidayang reservoirs.
According to the government of Anxin county, which administers Baiyangdian, the wetland has been replenished 23 times since 1996 by national-, provincial- and city-level water resource authorities, including four instances of water being pumped in from the Yellow River.
Baiyangdian is like a saucepan, wide and shallow, on average about seven or eight meters deep, and is an ideal habitat for birds and wildlife. The wetland covers an area of 366 square kilometers, but in the dry season the submerged area can shrink to just a few dozen square kilometers.
Baiyangdian is replenished by both rainfall and contributory rivers, however, rainfall in North China has decreased in recent years and as a result most of the contributory rivers have dried up.
Sewage produced by locals and factories used to be a major problem too. Discharges of polluted water to Baiyangdian were common a few years ago, and at the peak of the pollution, migrating birds stopped visiting.
Anxin county then built 149 water treatment stations and 383 kilometers of sewer pipes for all 45 villages in the area. Since factories in the upper streams were closed and water was diverted from other water bodies, Baiyangdian has seen its environment change for the better.
But experts say that a long-term strategy for water replenishment is needed to maintain Baiyangdian's ecosystem as part of the Xiongan New Area.
A pile of garbage waits to be cleared from the wetland. Photo: IC
The number of tourists visiting Baiyangdan has increased dramatically since the establishment of the Xiongan New Area. Photo: IC
Some parts of Baiyangdian are used by local villagers to farm fish. Photo: CFP
Tourists visit Baiyangdian on boats. Photo: ICNewspaper headline: Rescued wetlands