Restored waterway breathes fresh air into downtown Taichung, Taiwan

The newly restored Xinsheng Green Waterway is adding charm to the central Taiwan metropolis

The newly renovated Xinsheng Green Waterway in Taichung City (Image by Chin Hung-hao)

The newly renovated Xinsheng Green Waterway in Taichung City (Image by Chin Hung-hao)

TAICHUNG (Taiwan Today) -- A two-year restoration project on a forgotten canal has transformed downtown Taichung City, delighting visitors from home and abroad.

Xinsheng Green Waterway in the central Taiwan metropolis has been cleaned up, stocked with fish and turtles, flanked by landscaped pathways and studded with stepping stones.

The project also uncovered a stretch of the waterway near the old Taichung Railway Station, revealing the century-old Ying Bridge and adding richness to the area’s heritage. The original stonework underneath was left intact, so visitors can observe it from the riverside.

Work on the century-old Ying Bridge preserved the original stonework underneath so that visitors can observe it from the riverside. (Photo by Chin Hung-hao)

Originally an irrigation channel known as the Xinsheng River, the 6-kilometer waterway flowing through downtown Taichung lost its agricultural function as the city developed around it.

After domestic sewage seeping in turned it into an odorous ditch, urban planners covered over a section and used the land for commercial and transportation purposes. The smell, however, persisted and people and businesses stayed away.

The makeover included installing a new water treatment plant, which has cleaned up the sewage and improved flood controls. According to the Taichung City Government, the plant can process up to 24,000 tonnes of wastewater per day.

Evidence that the project has significantly improved water quality can be seen in how the river pollution index plummeted from 10—the most polluted value possible—before renovation work began to 2.75 after it was completed, the local government said.

The renovated river flows next to the Miyahara Eye Clinic, which was opened in 1927 and is now a popular dessert store. (Photo by Chin Hung-hao)

Located in the oldest part of the city, the canal is surrounded by many historical buildings such as the Miyahara Eye Clinic, established in 1927 and now transformed into a popular dessert store. Adjacent to the clinic, the 22-meter Zhongshan Bridge—built in 1908—is still in use today.

Visitors and top-level officials alike have been charmed by the renovated waterway. Premier Lai Ching-te and then Minister of the Interior Yeh Jiunn-rong visited the site, calling it a success and a model for urban planning. And around 40 local artists exhibited their paintings of scenes along its rejuvenated banks in August at the TCG building.

The first phase—a stretch covering 610 meters—cost NT$850 million (US$27.9 million) and was completed in February. The next two phases—with a budget of NT$1.39 billion—should be finished by 2020.

Structures added to the revamped canal allow tourists to take the perfect selfie.(Photo by Chin Hung-hao)