Liaohe River: Regaining clean water with conservation efforts

File photo: CGTN

After over 10 years of battling against water pollution, Liaohe River, the principal river in northeast China has undergone fundamental changes in ecological environment and biodiversity.

Running 1,345 kilometers in length, the river supplies about 4.76 million hectares of land across Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and the provinces of Hebei, Jilin and Liaoning. Connecting the northwest Liaoning, Shenyang Economic Zone and Liaoning Coastal Economic Zone, the river plays an important role in the economic development of the areas where it flows.

And yet, the river has been regularly polluted by industrial and agricultural waste and domestic sewage discharged from factories, households and farmland along its path, subsequently posing serious threats to the surrounding environment. To tackle the deteriorating situation, the provincial government of Liaoning has taken a series of measures in 2008, from promoting pollution control facilities and waste treatment facilities, to reinforcing law enforcement, returning farmland to nature and expanding the forest area along the river. Eventually, the notorious reputation as one of the most polluted rivers in China came to an end in 2013.

Great efforts in ecological conservation has also helped the steady recovery of biodiversity, which for decades was impacted. Ten national nature reserves have been set up to protect local bird species such as red-crowned crane and black billed gull and attract more wildlife. Under the strengthened protection, the number of the black billed gull has increased from around 1,200 in 1990 to over 10,000 now, making Liaohekou Wetland Nature Reserve the largest breeding ground for the bird in the world.