Hangzhou opens up lakes and rivers for citizens to enjoy water sports activities

Wu Huixin
To facilitate water sports activities, Hangzhou has made the Harvest Lake, Xiaolishan Water Transport Xitang, and Wuchanggang rivers accessible to the public.
Wu Huixin

Hangzhou has announced the opening of four watercourses to citizens for sports such as kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding, and dragon boats. Reservations have to be made online.

As of August, a number of urban rivers and lakes, such as Harvest Lake, Xiaolishan Water Transport River, Xitang River and Wuchanggang River have been certified for public water activities after two months of review and verification.

The government is providing free activities to increase public interest in water sports. Since the number of people allowed is limited, Shanghai Daily recommends that you book your spots online. Search "河道生活 (River Life)" on WeChat and reserve a spot for a specific activity.

The time and quota will be adjusted according to the trial operating circumstances. Furthermore, river protection teams and regular river patrols would be organized along the rivers to carry out public welfare activities and maintain the ecological environment.

Only rivers with high water quality are eligible for public use. The improved hydrologic environment can be attributed to the Zhejiang government's project "Five Water Shared Governance" (五水共治), which was established in 2013 to upgrade the province's industrial structure, seek sustainable growth, and promote people's well-being.

The phrase "five water" alludes to sewage, floods, waterlogging, water supply and water conservation. Hangzhou has since implemented a number of water-improvement initiatives. By the end of 2016, Hangzhou had become the province's first city to implement sewage treatment facilities in all areas. By the end of 2020, the city had completed an upgrade that connected all 9,148 waste-water disposal terminals.

Hangzhou opens up lakes and rivers for citizens to enjoy water sports activities

Citizens steer the dragon boats through the winding waterways of Xixi Wetland in the West Lake area in June. Since this month, more water sports have been made available to the general public.

The four urban watercourses offer a full excursion down a slow-moving and twisting riverine path.

Black-roofed and white-walled folk houses, for instance, are on either side of the Xitang River. It follows the famous Xiaohezhi Street, with lush vegetation on either side, offering a tranquil escape.

The river is a tributary of the Grand Canal. By the 1990s, the centuries-old waterway had lost most of its allure, as automobiles and high-speed trains had largely replaced river transport. Hangzhou has endeavored to restore and renovate many of its historic buildings over the years in order to restore their former glory.

Xiaohezhi Street has come to symbolize the restoration process. The boulevard is lined with classic two-story black-and-white residences, cobblestone sidewalks, and Oriental-style bridges and structures inspired by the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) dynasties.

Today, the Xitang River has become a kayaking competition site in Hangzhou. More water sports and public welfare activities will be organized in the future to encourage more citizens to participate in environmental conservation.

For many years, the Wuchanggang River has served as a natural training ground for dragon boat races. The river has a hydrophilic platform with excellent facilities and an abundance of aquatic vegetation.

The Wuchang Dragon Boat Race is a 500-year-old traditional folk festival in the adjacent Xixi area. Every year, the race is the highlight of Hangzhou's Dragon Boat Festival.

Only the Wuchanggang River, one of the four newly accessible river sections, is suitable for dragon boating. We propose a dragon boat ride on this river if you're traveling with family and friends.

The public water sports segment of the Xiaolishan Water Transport River runs from the confluence with the Chenjia River in the west to the Baima Lake in the east.

Local departments have built a 130-square-meter viewing platform for schools and a 198-square-meter floating water platform.

They will further extend the public space along the river in the future to encourage more citizens to exercise.

Olympic kayaking champion Xu Yaping has been requested to serve as a consultant for the development of water sports in China.

Hangzhou opens up lakes and rivers for citizens to enjoy water sports activities

The electric surfboard is a popular activity for those looking for an adrenaline rush in the waters of the Chengbei Sports Park.

If you go:

Harvest Lake

Opening hours: 1pm to 2pm on Fridays. Kayaking will be limited to just 10 people.

Xiaolishan Water Transport River

Opening hours: 5pm to 6pm on Fridays. Kayaking will be limited to 20 people.

Xitang River

Opening hours: 8:30am to 10:30am on Tuesdays. Kayaking and paddle boarding are restricted to 10 people.

Wuchanggang River

Opening hours: 4pm to 6pm on Saturdays, dragon boating. Only 20 people will be let in.

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