ABB helps China manage drought – and restore one of its most pristine lakes

2015-05-04 - China’s Fuxian Lake is known for unique fauna and a mysterious submerged kingdom, but it’s in a region hit by drought in recent years. ABB is providing control technology so local water managers can help restore the lake to normal levels and bolster the local economy.

China's famous Fuxian Lake, in a region hit by drought in recent years, will be returned to normal levels thanks to an ambitious emergency water project where ABB is deploying its control technology
Perched on the Yunnan Plateau at the headwaters of the China’s Pearl River, Fuxian Lake is home to at least a dozen species of fish found only in its pristine blue waters. Some 155 meters beneath its surface, archaeologists have discovered the remains of an ancient kingdom that may have slid into the lake during an earthquake 1,750 years ago.

More recently, the region surrounding one of China’s deepest freshwater lakes has been hit by drought, in the process threatening Fuxian Lake’s water quality and putting economic development of the surrounding area, including Yuxi City, increasingly at the mercy of the weather.

To tackle the challenge, officials enlisted ABB starting in July 2014 to provide sophisticated automated control equipment that will form the backbone of an ambitious emergency water project. This system will redirect ample water supplies from Dalongtan Lake, to the east, through more than 70 kilometers of pipeline connected to the drought-hit region.

The diversion project will clear the way for some 2.5 million residents of Yuxi City and other urban areas in Yunnan province to develop their economy
Boosting growth, helping the environment

This is another example of how ABB technology – in this case, control devices from its Compact Product Suite to optimize the network of pump stations that control the diversion system’s flow - is helping underpin China’s economic growth and contribute to environmental protection even when Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate.

“Using Dalongton Lake as a new water resource will indirectly fill the water for Fuxian Lake, letting it recover gradually to its normal water level,” said Anne-JiaQi Yang, Hub Business Unit Manager Control Technologies, China. “And the local government will also promote the ecological protection of Dalongtan Lake, to ensure that it remains a sustainable water resource for the region surrounding Fuxian Lake.”

ABB is working swiftly, with the project due to be completed by May 30 – less than a year after ABB was commissioned to do the work.

It’s also a prime example of the message ABB’s alliance with Solar Impulse is sending: Through technology and innovation, we can run the world without consuming the earth. Solar Impulse is in Nanjing, China, a stopover on its historic mission to become the first solar powered plane to circumnavigate the planet.

The diversion project will clear the way for some 2.5 million residents of Yuxi City and other urban areas in Yunnan province to develop their economy, including tourism centered on Fuxian Lake, while alleviating pressure on underground water resources that have been tapped to excess in recent years as drought lingered.

Nowhere else in the world

From energy installations to water projects, AC 800M controllers are ideal for controlling industrial processing applications that demand flexibility, redundancy and reliability
Fuxian Lake and nearby Xingyun Lake, which are connected by a river, will be restored to their natural levels, helping protect water quality that’s among the best in China.

That’s good news for the fish that live in here, including a spiny-finned member of the carp family called schizothorax lepidothorax that’s found nowhere else in the world.

This project is in the heart of China’s heavily forested Yunnan province, among the country’s most biodiverse regions.

With its deep blue water, Fuxian Lake, at 1,721 meters and surrounded by mountains, invokes images of famous Lake Tahoe in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains.

While Fuxian Lake has suffered from drought, Dalongtan Lake, which has been traditionally used for urban water supply and local industry and agriculture, enjoys significant water flows that haven’t been impacted by the shortages. The flows average some 167 million cubic meters annually.

Even in dry years, annual water flow reaches about 110 million cubic meters, making Dalongtan Lake an ideal resource to help restore the water balance around Yuxi City and in Fuxian Lake.

The pipeline to Yuxi City will mitigate the impacts of the drought, boost the economy and help restore Fuxian Lake to its historic levels
For the project, ABB is providing 21 redundant sets of AC 800M controllers, with around 5,300 input and output signals, as well as four engineering stations and eight operator stations.

‘Pearl of the plateau’

This project contract was signed by ABB’s channel partner (Authorized Value Provider), reflecting how ABB’s control products and technical support in China are partnering with local companies that bring knowhow and engineering capability.

ABB’s equipment will help monitor, control, record, manage and automate the diversion system’s three pump stations and their respective electrical equipment, while enabling communication between the relay protection system, video monitoring, the direct-current control system and the integrated information management system.

Known as a “pearl of the Yunnan plateau,” Fuxian Lake even in years of normal rainfall has limited in- and outflows, one of the reasons why it is so environmentally sensitive. With ABB’s equipment now helping managers operate the water diversion system efficiently, the aim is for Fuxian Lake to be returned to normal levels within a decade.

“Fuxian Lake is among China’s most pristine lakes, with water so clean that people can drink it directly from the lake,” ABB's Yang said. “With this project, ABB is helping to preserve this natural wonder and in the process clearing the way for the region’s residents to develop their economies in a sustainable way.”

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