Green Development

Haikou's 'mother river' flows clear again

Updated: Apr 20, 2022 Print
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Clear water, lush greenery and swimming fish-these are the defining features of the Meishe River in Haikou, capital of South China's Hainan province.

Dubbed the "mother river" of Haikou, the Meishe was recently listed among "the country's 11 most beautiful hometown rivers" by the Ministry of Water Resources.

The river, stretching some 16 kilometers, flows mostly through the city's main urban area. Before the 1990s, the river was clean and beautiful, but with economic development and population growth, it became severely polluted. Foul smells from the river meant people living near it didn't dare to open their windows in the summer, prompting many residents to relocate.

A ray of hope appeared in 2016 when a sewage treatment project was launched to treat the river water, with a focus on ecological restoration and improving people's livelihoods.

"The root cause of the water pollution problem lies on the river banks," said Wu Tingfei, an official with the city water authority, noting that the key to successful treatment of the Meishe River is resolving the issue at its source and restoring the river's ecology to allow the water to purify itself.

The city took the lead in implementing the river chief system in the province, which significantly aided in the treatment of the river water and ensured the smooth execution of ecological restoration measures.

Thanks to the years of unwavering efforts, the Meishe River has come to life again.

"When I was young, the water was so clear that we kids used to often swim in the river in summer," said Haikou resident Wang Kaixuan, adding that the water became dirty and smelly with the development of the city and nobody wanted to live near it.

Hailing the government's remediation efforts, Wang said the scenery on both sides of the river has become more beautiful and the water has become clearer, attracting an increasing number of fish and birds. "Residents often bring their kids here to play," Wang said.

The Fengxiang Wetland Park beside the river has become a place where adults jog or walk their dogs, and children fly kites and play on the lawn.

"It used to be a garbage dump and a smelly ditch, but now it has been transformed into a wetland park by the government," said Huang Zilu, who was having a picnic in the park with her family and friends.

The park boasts lovely views and a pleasant environment, she added, and is an excellent spot for fitness and recreation and a great place for children to play.

Since the beginning of this year, Hainan has initiated a comprehensive project covering sewage treatment, the ensuring of water supplies, flood prevention, water conservation and seawater protection.

Water conservation is Hainan's top priority for the 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25) period, and the Meishe River is one example of a successful water treatment project in the province.

Wu said Haikou will play a leading role in Hainan's water conservation campaign and 217 projects, with a total investment of 36.6 billion yuan ($5.75 billion), have been planned.

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