Asia and Pacific

Born for Water, Prospering by Water, Returning Lakes to the People - Chinese Practice of Wuchang “Big Lake Plus” Innovative Green Lakeside Space in Wuhan

2021-01-29 15:03:00 sisd 24

With the acceleration of urbanization, human beings have begun to reflect on the impact of urbanization on natural environment. Ecosystems have become the focus of future urban construction. To explore sustainable urban development, Wuhan has innovatively proposed the “Big Lake Plus” model. It is building itself into a livable waterfront ecological green city and setting an example of harmonious coexistence between man and water. Relying on the lake resources under its jurisdiction, Wuchang District is leading the construction of “Big Lake Plus” sample projects to better utilize its water resources and achieve sustainable social and economic development.

Objective of the practice

Objective 1: The “Big Lake Plus” model has proposed the “three-step” strategy of consolidating the foundation of water ecosystems through lake-specific policies, landscaping lake-rim parks in lake-specific styles, and driving comprehensive development of the district. Specifically, the lake-specific policies are based on the current water environment of lake resources, and policies such as Lake Chief System of Wuchang District and Measures of Wuchang District on Environmental Protection Supervision and Inspection are formulated for top-down regulation. In addition, the model has proposed to implement specific measures for regulating and improving the water environment from five aspects, i.e. management of shorelines, prevention and control of water pollution, regulation of water environment, restoration of water ecosystems, and supervision of law enforcement. Tasks are broken down and assigned to relevant departments, and task break-down sheets and schedules are developed to ensure the establishment of a full-cycle, whole-process, and holistic permanent mechanism for regulation and control of the lake water ecosystems in Wuchang District from top-level planning and management to implementation and supervision. By 2020, we aim to achieve the target water quality across the board and the effective protection of water resources, so that the public can not only watch the water but also approach, contact with and play in the water, thus realizing the harmonious coexistence between man and nature.

Objective 2: The “Big Lake Plus” model focuses not only on lakes themselves, but also on the natural landscapes surrounding lakes and the adjacent urban construction areas. The parks and greenbelts surrounding lakes will adopt different themes and styles. In the future, each lake in Wuchang District will be a lake park with its own features. While opening the lakes and lake parks to the public, we will lay greater emphasis on their quality, distinctiveness and eco-friendliness. The “Big Lake Plus” model aims to achieve integrated development of the city and lakes. Focusing on the lake water bodies, surrounding greenbelts, and functional areas, we will explore the “Big Lake Plus” model of protection and utilization. We will give priority to ecological protection, stress green development, and highlight the integration of leisure and recreation, innovation and creativity, scientific and technological research and development, and other public functions. We will increase new functions, create new spaces, and cultivate new drivers. We will build “lake function areas” with different themes and characteristics and full of vitality in their own ways, and provide greater, greener, and more beautiful urban public spaces.

Key stakeholders and partnerships

Benefited parties: Residents around the lakes, park visitors, constructors and operators of lake-rim projects.

Stakeholders: Operators of park amusement facilities, managers of lakes or parks, water and landscaping departments of the district government, and constructors to implement the transformation.

Partners: District Urban Management Commission, District Development and Reform Commission, District Finance Bureau, District Environmental Protection Bureau, District Construction Committee, District Water Affairs Bureau, District Commerce Bureau, District Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau, Wuchang Huazhong Financial City Administrative Committee, Wuchang Riverside Cultural Business District Administrative Committee, Wuchang Land Resources and Planning Sub-Bureau, and sub-district departments.

Implementation of the Project/Activity

1. The district has set up a leading group, completed the division of job responsibilities, and formulated an implementation plan.

2. The district has defined the target water quality of lakes, formulated an implementation plan, designated the responsible departments, and identified the time nodes for acceptance. The lake-specific water quality improvement projects, covering management of shorelines, prevention and control of water pollution, regulation of water environment, restoration of water ecosystems, and supervision of law enforcement, are progressing well.

3. The district will re-landscape lake parks in different styles and open all of them to the public. The construction has started in the areas of Ziyang Lake and Shaihu Lake.

4. The district has renewed the functional areas and older urban areas surrounding the lakes, opened up the roads and accesses to the lakes and parks, and improved urban functions and living environments in the surrounding areas.

5. Follow the top-level planning, the district has formulated systematic and development-oriented plans for pollution prevention and control, functional reconstruction, quality improvement, environmental shaping, and operation management of “lake functional zones and affected zones” by different categories, in different stages, and at different levels.


1. The water quality of lakes is improved. The water quality of Simeitang Lake and Neisha Lake is maintained above Class IV water standards; the water quality of Ziyang Lake and Shaihu Lake is raised to Class IV water standards, and the water bodies in Shahu Lake and Shuiguo Lake that were inferior to Class V water standards are eliminated.

2. Accessibility of the lakes is greater, and all parks are open to the public.

3. Landscaping around the lakes and landscaping of parks are improved. The district replanted trees, transformed lake-rim roads, cleaned up miscellaneous trees, and improved revetment ecosystems.

4. Urban residents and tourists are satisfied with the improved ecological environment, and the public accessibility to natural environment is remarkably enhanced.

5. The model increased the value of land around the lakes, stimulated economic development in the surrounding areas, and provided more jobs.

Enabling factors and constraints

Enabling factors: The close attention of the government, the active participation of relevant departments, and the strong support of the public for improving the environment and water quality.

constraint: The large capital investment, long cycle of ecological restoration, heavy costs of maintenance, difficulty in demolition of surrounding buildings, need for improving municipal pipeline network in surrounding areas, insufficient self-regeneration capacity of water bodies, etc.

Sustainability and replicability

The close attention to the ecological resources in the lakes and their surrounding areas is the core and focus of the “Big Lake Plus” development model. The focus of future urban development has shifted from "taking from nature" to "returning to nature". The attention to natural resources itself reflects the original intention of sustainable development. Additionally, the “Big Lake Plus” development model protects lake resources and effectively utilizes them as well. In particular, the division of “lake functional zones” reflects the role of lake resources as the center and core competitiveness of urban development. It truly translates water resources into water advantages to achieve sustainable urban development.

Experience 1 is the reproducibility of the planned steps: The plan proposes to restore water ecosystems through lake-specific policies and to consolidate the foundation of lake ecosystems through the river and lake chief system. It also proposes to shape the lake landscapes in different styles and to create distinctive waterfront landscapes by fully utilizing lake resources. The "Big Lake Plus" model stresses overall improvement. It divides the lake area into different functional zones, and focuses on lakes to drive the development of the whole region. It has pointed out a path from foundation consolidation to quality improvement to comprehensive development, ensuring the ecological protection of lake resources and utilizing them to the largest extent. Such a planning idea can be applied to the protection and utilization of various natural ecological resources in cities such as rivers, lakes, and mountains.

Experience 2 is the reproducibility of the idea of "Plus": The idea of the "Plus" development model can also be used in other aspects of urban planning and construction.

Experience 3 is the reproducibility of the way of lake governance, the path of ecosystem improvement, and the methods of management.


The “Big Lake Plus” model, an innovative development model proposed by Wuhan Municipality, is an extension of “Internet Plus” and “Tourism Plus” development models. It applies lake resources to various functions of urban development and integrates such resources in urban functions. This idea of development accurately captures the core competitiveness of Wuhan's urban development, and is in line with the trend of the times. So far, the Wuchang District “Big Lake Plus” planning has been completed. Based on the lake-specific water environment protection plans for its “7 lakes and 2 canals”, the district has formulated implementation plans featuring “1 lake + 1 table + 1 map”, and completed the design of the Ziyang Lake Park as an example of landscaping lake-rim parks in different styles. In the future, we will focus on improving water quality, improving waterfront landscapes, building cultural scenic spots, building shared spaces, and facilitating the construction of a sponge city and supporting facilities. We plan to increase green space by 3,550 m2, increase the park greening rate by 2.22%. After the transformation, the parks are expected to achieve a total annual runoff control rate of higher than 85%, a non-point source pollution control rate of higher than 60%, a rainwater resource utilization rate of higher than 30%, a permeable pavement rate of greater than 40%, and a subsided green space rate of greater than 25%, meeting the standards of sponge construction. We will advance the ecological transformation of shorelines to achieve an ecological revetment rate of 86%, thus improving the water quality and water-friendliness. At late stages, based on transformation of the parks, we will gradually come to industrial development and comprehensive functional upgrading. We will summarize the mature experience of "Ziyang Lake Plus" model, expand the "Big Lake Plus" model to seven lakes in the district, and comprehensively improve the core value of Wuchang District so that the "Big Lake Plus" model will become its distinctive feature.