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Lake Profile


General Information

Description Dianchi Lake is located in the Yunnan Province of Southwest China, and is one of the Chinese government's key lake restoration priorities. Dianchi is the largest lake in Yunnan Province and one of the ten largest lakes in China. It is severely polluted with industrial and domestic waste, which has led to extensive algal blooms.
Country China
Latitude 24° 50' 0" (24.8333)
Longitude 102° 42' 0" (102.7000)
Lake Region Yunnan Lakes
River Basin Yangtze


 Dianchi global index map (LakeNet Explorer)
 Largest Lakes of the World by Volume (LakeNet Explorer 2004)
 Dianchi location map
 Lake Basin Management Initiative (LakeNet Explorer)
 Dianchi land-use aerial

Physical Characteristics

Volume 1.56 km3
Surface Area 309.00 km2
Depth Mean depth: 5.4 m
Maximum depth: 8.0 m
Origin Tectonic
Type Fresh
Catchment Catchment size: 307.00 km2
Catchment/surface area ratio: 1:1


Economic Value Dianchi Lake is the main water source for industry and agriculture in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan. Although water from Lake Dianchi at one point made up 40% of the drinking water for Kunming City, the city has had to shift to other sources of water due to the lake's severe algal blooms.
Major Cities Kunming City (population 1 million)

Watershed Management

Description Much effort has been put into reversing the considerable economic losses in the Lake Dianchi area due to environmental pollution and eutrophication. In 1993 the State Council approved a comprehensive pollution control plan for the Dianchi. In 1995, the Chinese Government listed Dianchi Lake as one of three key lake targets of a pollution control project focused on cleaning up the Liaohe, Huaihe and Haihe rivers. The stated goal is to reduce the volume of polluting discharge by 10% by the year 2005. Plans include 39 wastewater treatment plants for Dianchi, Taihu and Chaohu lake basins, a project projected to cost US$ 1.5 billion. Tsinghua University has undertaken a project to reduce fertilizer and pesticide pollution. The Kunming-based Aquatic Organism Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences is leading the effort to control blue-green algae.
Watershed Action Plan Developed
Issues Water pollution problems continue to be very serious. Blue-green algal blooms, a sign of severe nutrient pollution, reportedly covered 20 sq. kilometers of the lake surface as recently as 2000, and repeatedly caused production problems at the Water Plant. The Waihai Lake section of the lake is affected by .2 billion tons of waste water runoff, containing 5,000 tons of total nitrogen and 500 tons of total phosphorus. In addition to nutrients from fertilizers, pesticide pollution is also a problem. According to the Ministry of Science & Technology, Chinaa's efficiency in treating domestic wastewater is less than 20% on average, but is expected to reach 45% by 2005, "and even 60% in cities with populations of more than 500,000." Whether the area of the lake is continuing to shrink is unclear.
Other Issues Nutrient pollution
Point source pollution
Polluted runoff
Specific Contaminants Industrial

Biodiversity Conservation

Designations LakeNet Biodiversity Priority
WWF Global 200
Species of Concern


Lake Dianchi Freshwater Biodiversity Project

LakeNet Programs

World Lake Basin Management Initiative
LBMI Regional Experience Sharing & Review Workshop for Asia


Dianchi   (PDF) Experience Brief. Final. 2/27/2006.
Dianchi: World Bank Comments on Experience Brief  Experience Brief. Draft. World Bank. 3/22/2004.


Biodiversity Conservation of the World's Lakes: A Preliminary Framework for Identifying Priorities
China Lake Database
Invasive species in China: an overview
Yangtze River Basin map & information


9/21/2004 - Fishing Ban Takes Effect on Dianchi Lake
4/23/2004 - Towards a Lake Basin Management Initiative
8/19/2003 - China's Yellow River severely polluted
8/19/2003 - World War II "Flying Tiger" plane to be lifted from Dianchi
7/1/2003 - Yunnan introduces advanced silt clearing technology
11/22/2002 - China considers stricter invasive species controls: Amazonian snails infiltrating lakes
5/8/2002 - Huge investment earmarked for water cleanup in China
2/8/2002 - China has new way to relieve water hyacinth plague
10/12/2001 - China and the UN have $10 million plan to restore lost lakes

Additional Data Sources

Birkett, C., and I. Mason. 1995. A new global lakes database for remote sensing programme studying climatically sensitive large lakes. Journal of Great Lakes Research, 21 (3) 307-318.
Duker, L. and L. Borre. 2001. Biodiversity conservation of the world's lakes: a preliminary framework for identifying priorities. LakeNet Report Series Number 2. Annapolis, Maryland USA.

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