Erhai Lake Project: A Paradigm Shift for Water Pollution Control and Social Development

Lake Erhai is the seventh largest freshwater lake in China attracting many visitors worldwide. However, the water quality has significantly deteriorated throughout the years. China Water Environment Group, Shanghai Jiaotong University and the local Dali Government have taken a series of actions to restore and protect the lake through PPP mechanisms and innovation since 2015. Fertilizer usage was reduced, inflow river wetland and littoral zones were built for ecological restoration, sewage networks and 6 underground water reclamation plants were constructed to reclaim wastewater. All these plants are covered by landscapes so that the sewage systems have minimum impacts on the environment. Ottelia acuminata, a species indicating water quality, reappeared in 2020 showing that the lake is recovering successfully. Meanwhile, the restoration attracted more tourists. In 2019, the total tourism revenue of Dali increased to 5.9 billion dollars.

China Water Environment Group developed the distributed-underground water and resource factory as revolutionary route for wastewater management, which turns the high burden of wastewater treatment and land occupation into multiple gains at once, such as reclaimed water, resource recovery and freeing up land. This would be China’s solution for combating water and land scarcity.

At the Project Innovation Awards 2022, the project by the China Water Environment Group, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, People’s Government of Dali, China, won the Silver prize in the Exceptional Project Execution and Delivery Category. Find out more about the winners.