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Protecting the Yangtze River by 'Nurse and Doctor' Measures

By ZHAN CHENICHONGQING|May 06,2022

Chongqing- Located in Southwestern China, Chongqing is the last gate of the ecological barrier in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, known as the “Mother River” in China. Wushan, a county in the east of Chongqing, is the last stop of the Yangtze River flowing through Chongqing. 

Situated in the heart of the Three Gorges reservoir area, Wushan County shoulders the responsibility of protecting the Yangtze River and building an important ecological barrier in its upper reaches. 

A picture of Wushan County, Chongqing. (iChongqing file photo)

As the gateway to the east of Chongqing, Wushan has a coastline of 508 km along the main streams and tributaries of the Yangtze River. With a water area of 96 square kilometers during the 175-meter storage period, the Yangtze River has 55 kilometers of mainstream shoreline and 453 kilometers of tributary shoreline, making it the last stop of the Yangtze River flowing through Chongqing. 

The unique location prompts the county to give full play to ecological functions and promote green, high-quality economic and social development.  Since 2005, Wushan has been working on cleaning the drift of the Yangtze River mainstream to improve the whole area’s water quality.

“Water nurse”

Wushan County has carried out a series of river clean-up initiatives regularly. As summer approaches, the Wushan drift cleaning department, known as the “water nurse” by the locals, will greet the busiest time of the year. 

“Drift cleaning work can be divided into three stages: dry period, flood period, and water storage period,” said a department representative. “Among them, flood and water storage periods have faster water flow and more garbage.”

Ecological barrier in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.

An ecological barrier in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. (iChongqing file photo)

In the previous two years, the trash removal work was heavy and time-consuming, even leading to a week-long closure of the waterway due to heavy summer rains. To ensure both the garbage collection and navigation, Wushan has upgraded the drifting boat, the most basic infrastructure, in recent years. 

Thanks to the transformation from manual ships to mechanized ones, the work efficiency is increased by more than ten times. Meanwhile, a 360-degree rotating “global eye” high-definition camera has been installed at key points to monitor the floating garbage situation in real-time.

Last year, Wushan County dispatched a total of 1,639 drift-clearing vessels with 6,556 operators, and more than 5,300 tons of floating materials were salvaged. 

“Water doctor”

In addition to “water nurse,” “water doctor” is also responsible for the Yangtze River’s protection. Every month, the Wushan County ecological environment monitoring station team tests the water quality in the boundary waters of the Yangtze River between Chongqing and Hubei Province and the Yangtze River’s tributaries, such as the Daning River. 

Wushan

A picture of Wushan County, Chongqing. (iChongqing/ Chen Zhan)

Through a series of rigorous operating processes of sampling, packaging, recording, and testing, the water quality status of the Yangtze River mainstream can be reflected truly and objectively. 

Furthermore, 24 wharves were closed and dismantled, 625 fishermen returned to shore, and 407 river chiefs were identified in 18 reservoirs of 25 rivers in the county.

Since 2019, Chongqing has issued a series of municipal river chief policies in consecutive years, leading to the excellent water quality of the Yangtze River mainstream in Wushan. The water quality of centralized drinking water sources has met 100% of the standards. 

By the end of 2025, the new urban sewage treatment capacity will be increased by 1.2 million tons per day in Chongqing municipality. The overall proportion of important river shoreline protection areas and reserved areas will reach more than 50%, and the city’s level 5 river embankment compliance rate will get 88%, shows the policy. 

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