Standing on the banks of the Tiaodeng River, Chongqing, the water is crystal clear, with birds’ songs and flowers’ fragrances on both sides. People often take a leisurely walk along the path, with many children’s laughter in the air. The panoramic images of life attract many people around the river.
However, the environment of the Tiaodeng River was not so good a long time ago. Many riverside residents have witnessed the transformation of the Tiaodeng River.
The vast improvement of the ecological restoration of the Tiaodeng River in Jiulongpo District has transformed the upstream lakes and reservoirs, the river waterway, and the pipeline network along the river. Staff members of Tiaodeng River have constructed the smart water management system and implemented a grid-based “river chief” system to monitor water quality in real-time 24 hours a day and carry out public prevention and treatment.
Tiaodeng River, a first-class tributary of the Yangtze River, originates from Shizi Rock in Gele Mountain, with a total length of 14.15 kilometers and a catchment area of 44.48 square kilometers in Jiulongpo District.
Back in the 1980s, a large number of small enterprises and workshops gathered along the banks of the Tiaodeng River. Livestock ordure and production sewage were directly discharged into the river. Slowly, there were more and more houses and factories on both sides of the river. More and more garbages and sludge pile up higher and higher. Therefore, the river turned dirty, and the riverbed shrank.
From 2017 to 2019, Jiulongpo District invested a total of 1.65 billion yuan in the comprehensive treatment of the Tiaodeng River. The river treatment focused on the main river channel and drainage basin in two phases. After the treatment, the water quality of the Tiaodeng River has been improved by one gradient. The goals of water quality improvement and control have been achieved ahead of schedule.
In order to further promote the treatment of the Tiaodeng River, in 2021, Jiulongpo District launched the river treatment and improvement project of Tiaodeng River again, rectifying and improving the nine tributaries and the drainage pipeline network on the outskirts. Meanwhile, the project accomplished the ecological restoration of weak sections of the river, started the construction of sponge parks and squares, and built control facilities for non-point source pollution.
Moreover, the district simultaneously launched the construction of the ecological bank protection of tributaries in the river basin and updated the fitness trails from Zhongliang Mountain and surrounding park plots to the Tiaodeng River. The quality of the water environment and human settlements in the whole area of the Tiaodeng River (in the territory of Jiulongpo) has been continuously improved.
In order to ensure the long-term effect of water treatment, Jiulongpo District fully implements the “river chief” system1 on three levels, including districts, streets, and towns, as well as villages and communities. Guided by regular river patrols by the river chief and assisted by smart water management, the long-term river management is fully implemented. At the same time, professional third-party agencies and institutions are entrusted to professionally manage and protect the equipment maintenance, clean daily garbages, and control sewage for the comprehensive improvement projects of the built water environment.
There is beautiful scenery on both sides of today’s Tiaodeng River. The comprehensive improvement and ecological restoration of the Tiaodeng River have not only won unanimous recognization from the public but also have been rated as an excellent case of water treatment. In 2021, the Tiaodeng River was successfully selected as one of the Beautiful Rivers and Lakes in Chongqing.
The “River chief” system: is promoted throughout China to reinforce river and lake protection. Government leaders are appointed as river chiefs, responsible for cleaning up the polluted waterways and restoring the ecological environment. This institutional approach contributed to overcoming the longstanding problem of departments functioning in different parts of river or lake governance and no one paying for the negative externalities of water pollution. Multi-dimensional assessments and incentives for river chief officials guarantee the effectiveness of water governance in the long term, setting a direction for green development.