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NTHU Chenggong Lake Undergoing Renovation

2022.07.07
As one of the main landmarks at National Tsing Hua University (NTHU) in Taiwan, Chenggong Lake holds a special place in the memories of alumni, and it is also popular among Hsinchu residents as a great place for a stroll or to take wedding photos. However, due to sedimentation building up over many years the water has become rather murky. Thus, the school has recently decided to dredge the Lake, which in terms of area will be one of the largest renovation projects ever carried out at NTHU. In addition to removing silt and improving water quality, thanks to funding from alumni donations, the project will include the construction of a dock and the restoration of the bucolic lakeside trail.
 
The draining of the water and removal of the fish began in August, and so far over one metric ton of fish have been netted. In an amazing display of hands-on supervision, vice president for general affairs Yan Dung-yung donned a pair of waders, plunged into the lake, and held up a bighead carp more than a meter long. The bighead carp, variegated carp, and silver carp will be moved to Kunming Lake, whereas the African carp, an exotic species, will be handed over to businesses that can make use of them.
 
The Office of General Affairs said that after draining the water and removing the silt, the surrounding area will be landscaped and a stairway leading into the water will be installed on one section of the shoreline; the renovation project is expected to be completed by April 2023.
 
Among the three lakes on campus---Chenggong Lake, Kunming Lake, and Hsiangsi Lake---Chenggong Lake is the largest, with an area of about three hectares. It was excavated for fire suppression during the Japanese colonial era. In the early days of NTHU, the lake was pristine and full of aquatic life, and hungry students used to catch fish in the lake to supplement their diets during those days of scarcity. However, due to the lack of an inlet to replenish the lake, the water quality has steadily deteriorated.
 
At the end of 2019, the University announced a fundraising campaign for the renovation of Chenggong Lake, which immediately received an enthusiastic response from alumni at home and abroad. The renovation project will cost about NT$75 million, about 70% of which has been raised so far.
 
Alumni Association president Tsai Jinbu (蔡進步) said that swan-shaped boats were brought in for the school’s anniversary last year, and that lots of alumni went out on the lake, reviving their fond memories of boating on the lake during their student days. Thus, it was decided to include the installation of boating facilities in the renovation project.
 
In recognition of Tsai’s impressive fundraising efforts for the project, the renovated and expanded dock will be named the Jinbu Dock.
 
Tsai graduated from the Department of Power Mechanical Engineering in 1981. One of his favorite leisure activities at NTHU was going out to the pavilion in the middle of Chenggong Lake late at night, and fishing while one of his classmates played guitar and sang folk songs. He fondly recalled how one time he caught more fish than could be eaten in a day, and how he kept the remaining fish in his bathroom.
 
For some time now it has been impossible to walk around the entire lake, since one part of the shoreline is obstructed by the perimeter wall of the Industrial Technology Research Institute. The renovation will rectify this by the addition of an elevated walkway over this section of the lake, which has been donated by Jordan Hu (胡國琳), who graduated from the Department of Mathematics in 1984.
 
Hu, who now lives in New York, displayed a graduation photo of himself with his parents and girlfriend next to Chenggong Lake. Since then, his parents have passed away, his girlfriend has become his wife, and he has established a successful career. He said that he hopes to return with his family for the school’s anniversary next year and take a walk on the new trail that will finally circle the entire lake.
 
Alumni from the departments of nuclear engineering, mathematics, physics, and chemistry who graduated in 1970 have donated a total of NT$11 million to the renovation project, and in recognition of their generous contribution the area next to the lake will be named the “1970 Park.” The park will feature shade trees, tables, and chairs, and will be open to the public.
 
Representing the class of 1970 was former NTHU president Chen Wen-tsuen (陳文村), who said that Chenggong Lake was the center of student life in the early years of NTHU, since the dormitories, cafeteria, and campus shop were all located next to it. He also recollected that rowing boats on the lake was a favorite leisure activity, and that many of his classmates were quite skilled at rowing. He added that the aim of the project is to restore the lake to its pristine state, replete with pellucid waters and the melodious songs of birds nesting on its shore.
 
On the small island on the east side of the lake, popularly known as Xigua Island, will be erected a new pavilion. The island will be renamed Yuning Island in recognition of the generous donation for the renovation made by Chen Yuning (陳昱寧) of the class of 1974.
 
Chen said that the charm of Chenggong Lake is one of her most cherished memories from her time at NTHU, and that the natural beauty of the campus was one of the things that attracted her to NTHU in the first place. She now lives in the United States, but hopes that when her descendants see this small island they will understand the important role NTHU played in her life.
 
The Office of General Affairs said that the renovation project includes a natural water filtration system using aquatic plants to clean the water and control algae.
 
If the fundraising campaign meets its goal, then the project will include renovating the Kegong Bridge and Jimei Pavilion. Thus, it is hoped that more alumni will come forth to support the project while the lake is still dry, lest this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity be missed.
 
Renovation plan for Chenggong Lake.

Renovation plan for Chenggong Lake.

Chenggong Lake figures prominently in the memories of everyone who has been a part of the NTHU community.

Chenggong Lake figures prominently in the memories of everyone who has been a part of the NTHU community.

Workers netting fish in the half-drained lake.

Workers netting fish in the half-drained lake.

So far over one metric ton of fish have been removed from the lake, including bighead carp, variegated carp, silver carp, and African carp.

So far over one metric ton of fish have been removed from the lake, including bighead carp, variegated carp, silver carp, and African carp.

Vice president for general affairs Yan Dung-yung (顏東勇) (left) holding up a bighead carp more than a meter long.

Vice president for general affairs Yan Dung-yung (顏東勇) (left) holding up a bighead carp more than a meter long.

Members of the erstwhile Sailing Club on Chenggong Lake.

Members of the erstwhile Sailing Club on Chenggong Lake.

Simulation of the Jinbu Dock to be built on Chenggong Lake.

Simulation of the Jinbu Dock to be built on Chenggong Lake.

Simulation of the elevated walkway and the adjacent aquatic plants.

Simulation of the elevated walkway and the adjacent aquatic plants.

Simulation of the 1970 Park.

Simulation of the 1970 Park.

Simulation of the pavilion to be built on Yuning Island.

Simulation of the pavilion to be built on Yuning Island.

Old photo of Tsai Jinbu (蔡進步) and his children feeding fish from the Kegong Bridge.

Old photo of Tsai Jinbu (蔡進步) and his children feeding fish from the Kegong Bridge.

1984 graduation photo of alumnus Jordan Hu (胡國琳) with his girlfriend and parents.

1984 graduation photo of alumnus Jordan Hu (胡國琳) with his girlfriend and parents.

Chen Yuning (陳昱寧) (second from left) in a 1973 photo with members of the Astronomy Club which she helped establish.

Chen Yuning (陳昱寧) (second from left) in a 1973 photo with members of the Astronomy Club which she helped establish.

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