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September 15, 2009

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Park blooms above water pumps

OPEN space with a garden and pavilion makes the intersection of Taixing and Kangding roads a favorite leisure spot.

Elderly people exercise in the pavilion in the morning, then kids dash around on the plank floor. People like strolling about and appreciating the flowers.

Only the lettering on the plank floor in the pavilion reveals its dual function - Pump No. 1 that handles water drainage of 345 hectares in the central area of Jing'an District.

The Changping Road Pumping Station, covering 2,575 square meters, is a major construction showpiece for World Expo 2010, which will explore the theme "Better City, Better Life."

It's an example of literally green multiple land use and making the most efficient and people-friendly use of limited space in the crowded city.

It is Shanghai's first underground wastewater pumping station, handling sewage, rain water and runoff.

Two similar underground pumping stations will soon go into operation, one on Wanhangdu Road in Jing'an District and the other on Wenmiao Road in Huangpu District.

Instead of an ugly above-ground structure giving off a pervasive bad smell, the new pump station is more like a park. Construction began in 2006 and was completed in April 2008.

Two nearby structures, both inefficient old pumping facilities, will be torn down with the land turned into more public green space.

The free "park" has a fountain, lawns, bamboo, attractive planting and flower beds and an artificial stream. At the center stands a white 50-square-meter pavilion with plank flooring.

The pavilion isn't only a recreation space, but also "masks" 10 underground pumps and other equipment that operate silently.

A decorative pillar contains a chimney that releases some unpleasant smells from the waste water underground, but overall the smell isn't a problem for visitors.

"The pump station garden is a perfect design with attractive appearance and efficient operation," says Yuan Shushi, vice manager of Zhuyuan No. 1 Sewage Transport Branch of the Shanghai City Water Drainage Co, which operates the pumping station.

As the underground pumps are half-submerged, they need regular checking and maintenance. An unobtrusive pulley in the pavilion roof removes the machinery for servicing from time to time.

"If we need to check or fix the pumps, we just move the flooring and use the pulley," says Yuan.

"The Changping Road Pumping Station is to date the only pumping station combined with public greenery in Shanghai," says Yao Jie, vice general manager of the Water Drainage Co.

It's also the first pumping station built completely underground and the first one with a storage tank.

It handles both waste water and rainwater; waste water is handled at around two cubic meters per second and rainwater at around 20 cubic meters per second.

The 15,000-cubic-meter holding tank can store drained water for an hour, then send it to a sewage treatment station before it is discharged into Suzhou Creek.

"The initial rainwater is very dirty in Shanghai because of all the dirt and greasy garbage in some places on the ground. Discharging directly into Suzhou Creek would completely blacken the water within hours," says Yuan.

Planners came up with the innovative idea of combining a waste water pumping station with public green space because land is limited.

There are two smaller, low-efficiency pumping stations right next to the present one - they could only handle 27mm per hour. The government ordered a capacity upgrade to 36mm per hour of rain and called for creation of more green space for nearby communities.

"The only solution that would satisfy both requirements is to fully use the space below ground, building a garden on the surface and a pumping station underground," says Yao.

An underground operation is more difficult to maintain than an above-ground facility. Humidity and bad air can damage the machinery, and more electricity is need to ventilate and dehumidify the station. Since the garden is open to the public at no cost, security is also a challenge.

But it's worth the effort. The engineers and staff are proud of the station. Residents love the garden and pavilion. And the subterranean station is operating properly.


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