Cleaning up Hoan Kiem Lake the Modern Way


A small dredge will be buried in the sediment at the bottom of Hoan Kiem Lake to suck up the muck that’s spoiling the famous Ha Noi landmark.

Hoan Kiem Lake

Placing the dredge under the surface of the sediment, where it will stay for two years at least, will prevent the sucking action from making the lake even murkier than it is already.

The device is the brainchild of Dr. Peter Wener from Dresden University in Germany and is considered the best way to fix Hoan Kiem.

Dr. Wener is no stranger to Viet Nam, having been here 20 times already to advise on water filtration and other forms of water cleaning.

Whenever he was in Ha Noi in the past, the good doctor would usually take an early morning walk around Hoan Kiem and get upset by how the pretty spot was polluted, and getting worse day by day.

Deciding that only modern technology could save the lake and its rare turtles, he came up with an idea that has been hailed by the Vietnamese and German scientists he subsequently worked with.

The team will begin the clean-up by dividing the lake into many small areas separated by metal nets. These nets will isolate sections of the bottom and prevent living creatures from getting inside and sucked up by the dredge.

The muck that’s removed will be used to make fertilizer.

It will take three months to dredge each section so the entire lake should take two years, during which time the turtles will be closely monitored to make sure they come to no harm.

Dr. Bui Hoc, director of the Research Center for Environmental Geology, is full of praise for the idea of dredging mud underneath the sediment and thus avoiding turbidity, which can blend toxic substances in the mud with the water above.

By sticking to one small area at a time, any interference with Hoan Kiem’s delicate ecosystem will be kept to a minimum, Dr. Hoc points out.

“German technology has proven to be very effective in cleaning lakes. And the dredging devices for Hoan Kiem Lake are very small so they will not be too noisy, even at night time,” says the impressed director of an environmental protection company.

The Ministry of Science and Technology has asked the Ha Noi People's Committee to use the same method to clean up other lakes in the city, funding some of the work with one million euros promised by a German organization.

Every morning, Hanoians young and old go to Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Ho Guom, to greet the sunrise. The lake is an ideal place for both exercise and socializing. People can be seen taking walks and chatting into the late afternoon.

Located in the heart of Hanoi, the lake is acknowledged as a historical and cultural site. It is like a large mirror reflecting the scenery and color of the sky. At sunrise, the sunshine spreads, producing a layer of marvelously brilliant golden rays dancing on the green water.

The lake has also produced one of Vietnam's most influential legends. Story has it that the largest soft-shelled turtle in the world - an unknown species - lived there.

The legend goes that in the mid-15th century, King Le Loi was bestowed with a magical sword by a giant turtle from the lake, which he used to defeat the northern invaders.

While the king was boating on the lake after the victory, a giant golden turtle grabbed the sword and disappeared under the water. Hoan Kiem Lake (Lake of the Restored Sword) or Ho Guom (Sword Lake) was so named as it is believed to be the spot where the sword was restored to its divine creator.

It is said that when visiting Hanoi, anyone who does not see Sword Lake has not actually been to Hanoi. The lake is an endless topic and inspiration for painters, poets, writers, and music composers.


Source Vnex - Translated by Hoang Uy

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