Award-winning river restoration in Shanghai

The Shanghai Suzhou Creek Rehabilitation Project was presented with an International Energy Globe Award at the World Exposition in Aichi, Japan on 27 April 2005. Natasha Wiseman reports on a multi-million dollar project that has brought life back to Shanghai's main waterway, brought quality of life to the city's residents and a restored habitat for wildlife.

Historically, Suzhou Creek, also named Wusong River, was a main sluiceway of Taihu Lake and a busy shipping route with rich fishing resources. Industrial growth in Shanghai in the early 20th century brought a sharp increase in population and ultimately, the pollution of Suzhou Creek.

By 1978, the water body of the main stream of Suzhou Creek was totally polluted and the urban reaches were black and emitted offensive odours; garbage floated on the surface and it was no longer habitable for fish and shrimps.

The Shanghai Sewerage Project Phase I (SSPI) to rehabilitate Suzhou Creek began on 25 August 1988.

Former President, Jiang Zemin, rallied: “Be determined to clean up Suzhou Creek”.

The main goals of Shanghai Municipal Government’s strategy for the rehabilitation of Suzhou Creek in 1996 were: to eliminate the bad odour and improve the appearance of the the main stream by 2000 and to restore the river’s ecological function by 2010.

Implementation began in 1998 with a total investment of US$845 million. The first phase included:

1. Interception of wastewater from tributary catchments

2. Construction of the Shidong Kou Wastewater Treatment Plant

3. Construction of lock gates at tributaries

4. Augmentation of low flow

5. Removing sanitary wharves and water surface cleaning

6. Re-aeration using a specially con-structed re-aeration boat

7. Sediment dredging

8. Upgrading embankment

9. Rehabilitating water system of Hongkou Gang

10. Intercepting dry weather sewage flow in catchments of Hongkou Gang and Yangpu Gang.

The first phase project was completed on schedule, and the 2000 goal has been fulfilled.

In 2003, the Suzhou Creek Rehabilitation Project entered its second phase with an estimated US$455 million investment and comprising eight components:

1. Reduction of wet weather over flow from municipal pump stations along Suzhou Creek

2. Sewage interception in the middle and lower reach catchments

3. Construction of a sewage collection system in Huangdu Town

4. Construction of a sluice gate at the mouth of Suzhou Creek;

5. Green land construction along the riversides

6. Construction of Mengqing Garden at Suzhou Creek;

7. Construction and renovation of sanitary facilities

8. Reconstruction of Xizang Road Bridge.

The environment rehabilitation project has eliminated the stench, the water is becoming clear and small fish have reappeared. The riverside environment has been upgraded significantly with yacht berths, promenades and parks.

The Energy Globe Awards are international awards for sustainability, the scheme is an Austrian initiative started six years ago by Wolfgang Neumann and is supported by the United Nations and EU along with many others. The 2004 competition attracted over 600 entries, more information can be found at

Contact: Shanghai Suzhou Creek Rehabilitation Project

Tel: +86 21 6321 5137

Email: [email protected]


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