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President's visit moves village to protect environment
October 05,2017   By:China Daily

Oct. 5, 2017 -- He Licheng, owner of a licensed inn in the village of Gusheng, processes wastewater through a septic tank and sewage treatment unit and then transfers it to a village sewage treatment plant. All of the village's wastewater has to be processed before it is returned to Erhai Lake.

Gusheng, west of the lake, is in the Dali Bai autonomous prefecture of Yunnan province.

The strict treatment measures have been instituted since President Xi Jinping visited on Jan 20, 2015. During that trip he spoke highly of the natural environment and traditional Bai houses. He asked people to protect the lake after taking a photo with local officials there.

"I'll keep this photo as evidence. When I come back in a few years, I hope to see the water even clearer," Xi said.

In the village, which dates back over 2,000 years, people used to make a living directly from the lake. Inn owner He, 50, previously had a powerboat and fishpond businesses he started in the 1980s.

But the lake was contaminated by blooms of blue-green algae in 1996 and 2003 as human activity increased.

This year, the lake's water has been graded Class II through May, whereas it attained that level for only the first four months last year, before falling to Class III, according to the environmental protection agency of the prefecture.

"Generally speaking, Class II water means you can drink it directly, and Class III means you need to process it before drinking it," said Cao Te, an associate researcher at the Institute of Hydrobiology, Chinese Academy of Sciences.

Cao has been studying the lake's ecosystem since 2006.

"May is when rains that pick up pollutants first arrive at Erhai and the aquatic plants start to grow because of rising temperatures," Cao said. "This May, the water has been so much better."

Cao is helping restore the ecosystem of the lake. He has planted different types of vegetation to help keep the water clean.

The whole village realized the importance of protecting the lake after Xi's visit.

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