By Xin Hao, Ding Fan, and Mei Xiu of Qiantang River Waterkeeper
Mr. Dong, a staffer of Qiantang River Waterkeeper, typically works around the clock patrolling a river in Gaojia Town, Qujiang District, Quzhou City, China. May 1st of last year, however, was not a typical day for him. He was patrolling the river with two other environmental observers, Yunlong Yang and Shiliang Li, when they passed a hillside dubbed “Radish Hill” that housed 26 pig houses for Xixi Farm. To the right of the livestock, just below a sewage treatment pool under construction, a stream of muddy wastewater with an unpleasant odor flowed along Radish Hill into an irrigation canal, saturating adjacent farmland with pig waste.
According to local villagers, the draining of animal sewage into nearby farmland had been common practice by Xixi Farm for nearly two years. Mr. Dong immediately contacted Qiantang River Waterkeeper’s longtime partner ‘Focus Today,’ a Zhejiang television program, to cover the story and bring awareness to the issue. A film crew was scheduled to investigate the site within the week.
On May 17th, the Xixi hog farm segment aired. News that a local farm was polluting neighboring farmland and waterways spread quickly, soon reaching the secretary of Zhejiang Provincial party, Mr. Baolong Xia. Within two days Mr. Xia had investigated the farm himself and declared that livestock farming must not pollute the environment. He emphasized the need to operate with a proper Environmental Impact Assessment and encouraged a rapid upgrade of livestock operations.
Under the guidance of various governmental departments, Xixi Farm became a model ecological farm within a month, earning the praise of Mr. Xia. The owner of Xixi Farm acknowledged that substandard sewage management caused pollution, and that proper treatment of sewage would benefit him, neighboring farms, and the nation. Mr. Dong was proud of the positive change he and Qiantang River Waterkeeper brought to his hometown of Quzhou.
In Zhejiang Province there are many stories like that of Raddish Hill, largely thanks to Qiantang River Waterkeeper’s training of citizens in environmental protection and water safety. In June 2016, Qiantang River Waterkeeper received continued support from the Alibaba Public Welfare Foundation to continue the ‘Clean Source Action’ project undertaken by the Zhejiang Environmental Observation program.
The ‘Clean Source Action’ project hosts round table meetings with partners to explore solutions to local water pollution issues. It invites individuals from environmental protection departments and civil organizations that are often on the first line of action to train the public, especially young people, on environmental inspection skills. There are now over 170 environmental observers joining Qiantang River Waterkeeper in their efforts towards clean water. A mobile app called “smart-river” was even designed to help solve river issues. Thanks to the app, 91 pollution cases were resolved, including Xinnan Lake’s acid water case, illegal discharge of wastewater by an industrial park, and dumping of waste near coastlines.
Environmental observers have provided nearly 100 pieces of evidence to provincial and municipal news media showing the true strength of a grassroots movement. This citizen engagement has gotten government’s attention, and many regional leaders have shown their support for Qiantang River Waterkeeper.
Photos by Dong Zheng, Green Zhejiang
从污染者到典型养猪场： ‘萝卜山背’ 的猪排泄物