Photos and text by Ms. Wong, Green Earth Volunteers
Green Earth Volunteers, home to Beiyun Waterkeeper, has been dedicated to observing and protecting the North Canal of the Beiyun River in Beijing for many years. Among the organization’s projects is an important activity series called “Water Walks,” which are recorded as blogs and posted on the Green Earth Volunteers River Information Guide. In recent years, through countless Water Walks, Green Earth Volunteers have achieved notable waterway protection victories using methods such as conducting on-foot investigations and reporting river pollution to the local government.
In 2018, when Green Earth Volunteers called to report an issue to the local River Chief, they had to wait four hours for a response from government officials. In contrast, in 2019 and 2020, we’ve received an immediate response every time we’ve reported an issue. This year, while patrolling the Beiyun River by foot, it was extremely apparent that many calls to action that we’ve made had been answered. For example, many concrete riverbank coverings have been removed and water quality has made noticeable improvements. All of the changes taking place are almost certainly related to the observations we make during our weekly Water Walks.
The sudden onset of the pandemic in 2020 threw off people’s usual life schedules — but our observation and protection activities along the Beiyun River never ceased. In May, in order to check the progress of a project that diverted water into the impaired Yongding River to replenish its normal flow, Green Earth Volunteers conducted multiple visits to sections of the river located in Jinmen Zha and Da Xiagu districts. On September 5, during an on-foot investigation of the Gaoliang, Zhuan, and Nanchang rivers, Green Earth Volunteers invited a Chinese water engineering expert to join and educate the walk’s participants – local Beijing residents – about water resource protection.
At the end of each investigation, Green Earth Volunteers posts the information recorded on the blog and use the power of the internet to call for the protection of the Beiyun River and its ecosystems. As the pandemic continues to sweep across the globe, Green Earth Volunteers will carry on in our Water Walks as well as sharing information about river protection with the public in any way we are safely able to. Observation and protection of the Beiyun River will continue as it always has.