Culture

Living Water Park Brings a New Life

Chengdu, the Land of Abundance, The Dujiangyan Irrigation Project is an example of the water-land balance that the Shu ancestors established. As the water has been flowing for over 2,000 years, how to achieve harmony with water has always been an issue local residents have cared about.


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A Water-Inspired Thought


The Funan River, also known as the Jinjiang River, has passed through Chengdu since ancient times. In the 1990s, Chengdu took on a conservation project to protect the Funan River, Chengdu's own "Mother River". Due to it's high potential, Chengdu adopted the ideas of Betsy Damon, an American environmental artist, in building a water-themed park in 1996. Through China-US-South Korea design, as well as the cooperation of a team of engineering experts, Living Water Garden, an urban eco-park themed around water conservation, opened to the public near Funan River in 1998. 


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The river's water continuously flows into the park every day through the core purifying areas, including the anaerobe settling pond, water sculpture, facultative anaerobe pond, and wetland system.  The water is purified to create a suitable environment for the pet goldfish. This ecological water-purification system, constructed of multiple wetlands, has earned Living Water Garden numerous world-class environmental engineering awards. Looking as far back as 20 years ago, this park became the pioneer to build parks centered on this system in China and across the world. 


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Green plants, boardwalks and ponds breed a green park environment using flowing water. 400 tons of river water are purified in the park every day. Believe it or not, "400 tons" is tiny compared to the volume of a river. However, what the builders of Living Water Park really considered in designing was getting people to bring their attention to water awareness. In an exclusive interview from HELLO Chengdu in 2010, Betsy Damon made a comment on showing citizens the process of turning water from turbid to clear, and from "dead" to "living", by building a park. She said, "it is crucial to keep water flowing. This is a story about courage, perseverance, and the glory of water."


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See What Water Looks like


On September 5, 2018, Chengdu ushered in the first rain of fall. On the morning of that day, Li Bing, a senior staff member, patrolled the park as usual. As the park had plans to be transformed into a "sponge-style park" in 2017, a "sponge system" was added. According to her introduction, this 24,000-square-kilometer park is shaped like a fish, and is inclined from one side to another. Water was accumulating in the lower half after heavy rains, causing inconvenience for visitors. The 20 year witnessed the coming of a road paved with permeable modern materials changed from the original stone road in the park, plus a system of rain collection and purification set up underground. The rain is absorbed by the spongy pavement and then stored in an underground pond through the filtration equipment of grit and gravel, finally to be used for irrigating the park.  


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Li Bing


It is vital to check water purification, the operation of the two sponge systems, and other facilities in the park every day. Walking in the park, Li Bing said, "It's always most comfortable just after the rain". The pavement is only slightly wet, with pebbles running through the park. It is this "sponge" system that makes the whole park a small testing ground of urban rain and flood management, as well as the construction of "a spongy city". 


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After the rain, the air is moist, and plants transplanted from Mount Emei are exhaling oxygen; visitors pushing a baby carriage walk slowly by the quiet and beautiful pond. This "water laboratory" has seen numerous students, and called on environmental and community groups since its opening to the public. Before the end of summer vacation, some visit here to study, and some for amusement. Because of the unique environment, they will all remember the water they have seen in the park.


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Address: No.5, Huaxing Road

Opening hours: all day

Ticket: Free


Photos by Maite Zeng

Excerpted from HELLO Chengdu October Issue in 2018


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