Science and Technology Daily | The Water Environment Management Mode in Guiyang: A Useful Reference for Large and Medium-sized Cities


As one of the most influential conferences in water environment, the 4th International Conference on the Evolution of China Urban Water Environment and Ecology was held in Guiyang from July 7 to 9th, 2022. Experts from UNEP, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Engineering and universities at home and abroad, as well as business representatives, have had discussions about water ecological protection and urban water environment governance. Hou Feng, director of the CWEG, shared the governance mode of Guiyang Nanming River with the audience.

The Conference Hall / photo from interviewee

The DURWecosystems solved the water management in drainage area

“As the capital city of Guiyang province, Guizhou has made great progress on ecology construction.” Hu Zhongxiong, member of Standing Committee of Guizhou Province, the Secretary of Guiyang Municipal Party Committee and the Party Working Committee, said that Guiyang will keep improving its water resource usage, water security, water ecology and water quality.

To date, every time people talk about clean waters and rivers in Guiyang, the Nanming River will come into their mind. Nanming River, with a total length of 185 kilometers, is the mother river of the locals and an important ecological barrier in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River. However, it’s hard to imagine that years ago, this drinking-water source was a black and smelly river, which went through repeated pollution and management. The management of water environment in the drainage areas is a global problem, especially in Karst areas with complex geological conditions. There is no successful precedent when it comes to the treatment of Nanming River with such a length, dense population and severe pollution.

“Rivers and lakes are the blood of our earth and the source of living things.” According to Hu Chunhong, member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and vice president of the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, watershed is the most fundamental and distinctive feature of rivers and lakes. We should work hard to explore the characteristics of water requirement of ecosystems, formulate standards for ecological restoration, and focus on its potential impact.

Hu Chunhong / photo from interviewee

In harnessing the Nanming River, we should bear in mind its watershed characteristic, adopting a distributed mode in a systematic way. “Eight years ago, there was no national standard nor successful precedent for reference, but with the government's dedicated support for scientific and technological innovation, we managed to do it.” Hou Feng, director of the CWEG told us that the governance of Nanming River is a successful practice. It shows that the team’s years of efforts have been paid off.

Through overall planning and step-by-step implementation, a DURWecosystem of city scale and 21 underground WWTPs have been built and reconstructed along the Nanming River according to the sewerage and drainage, functional zoning and resource utilization of cities.

After 8 years of management with investment of RMB 7.6 billion, the Nanming River is now a clean river with fishes swimming and egrets flying. It’s also the world’s first engineering practice of DURWecosystem and the plant-river-lake integration mode within cities.

A role model to break the routine, the Nanming DURWecosystem deserved to be popularized across the whole country

"The ecological progress in Guizhou is an epitome of China's ecological development. Nanming River’s environmental governance mode is a useful reference for large and medium-sized cities in China.” Zhang Tao, the deputy dean of Chinese Academy of Sciences said in a video. A good ecological environment is the most valuable public product for people. We have to give credit to the government, the people and the enterprises for their determination in the management of Nanming River and supports for technological innovation.

Guiyang has the magnificent Wujiang River, the beautiful Nanming River, and more than 100 rivers with clear water. It shows that Guiyang pays great attention to ecological protection and environmental science and technology. Qu Jiuhui, the president of Water Environment and Ecology Council of Chinese Society for Urban Studies and member of Chinese Academy of Engineering said in his speech.

Qu Jiuhui / photo from interviewee

The DURWecosystem has changed the ways of how the world dealing with water sewage for centuries. Instead of discharging the urban sewage as pollutants, we dedicated in its scientific collection and resource utilization to create stable water resource for cities. Rated as a world leader, the DURWecosystem is now a national technology for upgrading green infrastructure recommended by the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the Ministry of Science and Technology, the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Ministry of Ecology and Environment. A number of national demonstration projects of DURWecosystems have been built in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Dali and other cities, covering scenarios of water environment treatment and resource utilization which deserved to be popularized across the nation.

“I’m very interested in the Nanming DURWecosystem. I want to know and learn its ideas and techniques, which are the key points guiding practice.” About 80% of the world’s sewage has not been treated properly and effectively. Where to build the WWTP and how to lower the operation cost requires innovations in thinking, technology, operation mode and system. The UNEP supports the sharing of China's experience and practices, so as to contribute to the protection of the global environment. Tu Ruihe, representative of the UNEP to China said in his speech.

Technological innovation promotes high-quality development of the industry

On May 25th, 2022, the State Council details Opinion on Better Use of Existing Infrastructure and Assets to Boost Effective Investment. It has made clear that the construction of underground WWTPs according to local conditions will be advanced along with the integrated exploitation of underground and ground space to make better use of the existing assets and to increase revenue.

The Distributed Underground Reclaimed Water Ecosystem has officially become one of the national strategies. The CWEG took the lead in the national topic - “Underground WWTP and Resource Utilization” regarding the major water project of the 13th Five-year Plan, formulating the country's first guidelines and standards for underground WWTP, which have been implemented nationwide. Moreover, CWEG has solved the problem of the facility construction in mountainous cities in Guiyang, which is regarded as the earliest practice of underground WWTP making better use of the existing assets.

Hou Feng / photo from interviewee

According to Dr. Hou Feng, it’s not about simply putting the plants under the ground but using technologies to process the sewage to applicable standards according to the requirements of water environment and water resources utilization, so as to improve the environment of underground and ground space and to make good use of the available spaces according to urban planning and demands to further provide more public service products.

It is reported that in the next 5-10 years, if the system is adopted in the construction of 5,600 sewage treatment plants across the country, it will bring a total investment of RMB 10 trillion, save 20,000 ha. of land directly and approx. 66,667 ha. of land indirectly.

“Adhering to independent technology innovation and practices, CWEG has undertaken a number of national key scientific projects, further explored a way towards resource utilization. We will keep working hard to promote the green and high-quality development of China’s water environment.” Dr. Hou Feng said. As a professional enterprise, the CWEG shoulders responsibility and shows respect for the government and the people. We have been dedicated in the scientific exploration and technological innovation to transform science and technology into productivity, hoping to make more contributions to the country and the people in environmental governance and resource utilization. He added.


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