Tag Archives: Dianchi

China initiates enormous Yangtze water diversion scheme

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Although not on the scale of the Grand Canal or the Three Gorges Dam, the waterways of Yunnan province are undergoing radical changes. This is especially true in the Three Parallel Rivers Protected Areas. In the name of “development” and “drought prevention”, a new project launched in the province will divert a stunning quantity of water away from the headwaters of the world’s fourth longest river.

Dignitaries and officials attended groundbreaking ceremonies for the Dian Zhong Water Diversion Project (滇中引水工程) on September 30 in Lijiang. Attendees oversaw the initial launch of a program that will divert an estimated 3.403 billion cubic meters of water annually away from the upper reaches of the Yangtze — known as the Jinsha River (金沙江). The ceremony was overseen by Provincial Party Secretary Li Jiheng (李纪恒), while a similar event was held simultaneously in Dali.

The water in question will be funneled southeast through naturally occurring rivers and lakes, first passing near the cities of Dali and Chuxiong before reaching Kunming, Yuxi and Honghe. The intended goals of the project include providing more water for municipal, agricultural and industrial use during times of drought. Of added benefit, according to local media reports, will be the influx of clean water into several lakes suffering from major environmental degradation.

Even though Yunnan as a whole is rich in water resources, the middle of the province is periodically crippled by drought. It is hoped by officials the Dian Zhong Water Diversion Project may avert future water shortages such as the five-year dry-spell between 2009 and 2014 that threatened millions of people and led to billions in lost revenue.

Lakes affected include Kunming’s Dianchi (滇池),Qilu (杞麓湖) near the city of Yuxi, and Yilong (异龙湖) in Honghe Prefecture. Dianchi in particular is an environmental nightmare, and for more than a decade has been covered in a thick, green film of algae rendering it’s waters useless even for industrial use.

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The provincial government has repeatedly thrown large sums of money at various Dianchi clean-up and “rehabilitation” efforts. Over the years such measures have included the introduction of invasive plant species, efforts to oxygenate the lake, and theconstruction of water treatment plants along tributary rivers and streams. Nothing has yet showed substantial success.

Two years ago, then-Provincial Party Secretary Qin Guangrong (秦光荣) outlined a new plan for Dianchi, one that would effectively “flush the lake clean” of pollutants and algae with water from the province’s northwest. The Dian Zhong Water Diversion Project appears to be based largely on Qin’s vision, although with a heavily modified and enlarged scope.

The project begins in Shigu (石鼓) — known in China as ‘the first bend in the Yangtze’. From there, an amount of water equivalent to 1,360,000 Olympic-sized swimming pools will be diverted away from the Jinsha River through man-made canals and underground pipelines connected to existing waterways, including the lakes mentioned previously.

Work on the 661-kilometer endeavor — which will not include the construction of any new dams — is expected to take eight years, with “long-term goals” realized by 2040. No cost estimates have yet been made public. Speaking at the ground-breaking ceremony held last month, Yunnan’s acting governor Chen Hao (陈豪), said “This is an exciting time, a time of dreams.”

This article written by Patrick Scally was first posted here on the GoKunming.com website.

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Filed under Agriculture, China, Environment and sustainability, Sustainability and Resource Management, water, Yunnan Province

Air pollution and Kunming’s prevailing rainy season wind patterns

Anning PetroChina

Click to enlarge image.

This image shows prevailing wind patterns during Kunming’s rainy season which runs roughly from May to October.  Strong southwesterly winds bring monsoons from the Bay of Bengal over the Burmese landmass into Yunnan province.

The red rectangle in the southwest corner is the site of the PetroChina oil refinery, the focus of a series of recent environmental protests by concerned Kunming residents.  GoogleMaps has detailed imagery of construction site’s layout.  The purple area to the north is Kunming’s city center, determined by the area inside of Kunming’s 2nd ring road and home to a population of approximately 2.5mn.

Winds passing over the 10 million ton PetroChina oil refinery will send toxic pollutants directly over Anning city and Kunming’s most populated urban districts.  Anning is Kunming’s largest satellite city with an urban population of 100,000.  Kunmingers often drive to Anning to soak in its famous hot springs (also predictably in the pollution path), but in the last 10 years, most of Kunming’s heavy industry moved to Anning in an attempt to reduce pollution in the Dianchi Lake watershed.

After passing over Anning, winds become more concentrated and pick up speed to shoot through three passes in the Xishan (Western Hills) mountain range.  The solid line represents the most voluminous wind channel.  It doesn’t take an expert to see that the oil refinery site was chosen at the most optimal point for dumping pollution onto Kunming.  Perhaps this is why city officials are reluctant to release data from the project’s legally mandated environmental impact assessment.

To make matters worse, a strong southerly lake effect wind, constrained by Kunming’s eastern hills, pushes all westerly winds northward into the city center as they break over Xishan mountain range.  This guarantees that nearly all winds that pass over the oil refinery site through Kunming’s downtown and finally into the city’s north district, home of an additional 1.5mn residents.  Kunming’s north district, currently undergoing a major urban facelift, is planned as one of the city’s new core urban centers with a projected population of 3 to 4 million residents by 2020.

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Filed under China, Current Events, Economic development, Energy, Environment and sustainability, Uncategorized, VISUALS

Cleaning up Kunming’s Dianchi Lake, Part 2

Zhou Dequn’s post, “Cleaning up Kunming’s Dianchi Lake” discussed the origins of and contributing factors to the lake’s pollution.  His post also briefly discussed a few of the measures used to raise the quality of Dianchi’s water in recent years. The marked improvement of Kunming’s groundwater quality was recently profiled in this New York Times video.

Dianchi south

PHOTO: Dianchi’s southern shoreline

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Filed under China, Economic development, Environment and sustainability, Sustainability and Resource Management, water