Beautifying the Chinese Garden Pond

Most people think of the “Redbird” sundial when asked about the landmark of HKUST. The longstanding Redbird has gone through many ups and downs with us. But what else can you think of?

The beautiful Chinese Garden near staff quarters tower 15-19 could be a symbol of our university as well! A year ago, the garden was desolated with few animals and wilting plants. Water was not flowing at all and pollutants gathered in the pond. Not many people know about this hidden gem in our campus. Yet, Professor Guanghao Chen and his team from Civil Engineering were determined to bring it back to life. Funded by the Sustainable Smart Campus (SSC) initiative, a state-of-the-art wastewater technology was adopted to replace the existing sand filtration equipment.  The result is a well-balanced ecosystem for freshwater animals.

What is so special about this system? It utilizes both physical and biological technologies to prevent ammonia build-up from the decay of organic materials. The pond water is first drawn through a skimmer that collects flowing debris by two submersible pumps. One pump has a micro-screen to further filtrate fine particles that are larger than 75 micrometers, such as fish waste. Then it goes to the Moving Bed Biofilm Reactor (MBBR) for biological treatment. Finally, the effluent is treated with UV light to kill algae before returning to the pond.

Internal circulation of pond water is carried out by the other pump. Aeration tubing is installed to maintain an adequate dissolved oxygen level for supporting aquatic creatures. Smart meters measuring pH levels and dissolved oxygen levels are also installed to provide a more accurate understanding of the water’s condition. You can click here to learn more about the system.

To beautify the Chinese Garden Pond, a landscape architect enhanced the planting design with rock arrangements, removed the unsightly white fence, and incorporated a water sculpture.  New plants highlight  seasonal and evergreen plants under the concepts of Experiencing (traveling through scenery), Picturesque (admiring the scenery from within) and Seasons (composting scenery with seasonal colors).  A symphony of lights is staged every evening, thanks to LED lights installed at the bottom of the pond. How could we miss out some music? In early November there will be a live choir performance at the garden! Stay-tuned for the event announcement.

“To plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow,” said by famous Hollywood actress Audrey Hepburn. A garden is therapeutic to one’s soul and mind. Its tranquillity cultivates creative thinking and let innovative ideas blossom. In fact, countless studies have shown cancer patients recover faster when they can see nature every day, because it reduces the level of stress and pain, boosting their bodies’ immune system. 

So the next time you are feeling stressed or bored, you may as well pay a visit to the Chinese garden. You will be surprised by the power of nature.  

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