Voluntary river chiefs to help water protection in east China

Huang Yue China Plus Published: 2018-01-05 07:16:19
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Photo taken on December 29, 2017 shows a pond in Baiquan Town, Zhoushan city, Zhejiang Province. [Photo: China Plus/Huang Yue]

Photo taken on December 29, 2017 shows a pond in Baiquan Town, Zhoushan City, Zhejiang Province. [Photo: China Plus/Huang Yue]

Zhoushan, a city in eastern China and a critica point along the Yangtze River Economic Belt, has seen improvements in water quality as the government has channeled more energy into environmental protection.

Inspired by China's River Chief system, the city also appointed several voluntary river chiefs from among the public to help inspire common people to become engaged in water protection.

50-year-old Zhang Hongxing has been a voluntary river chief since March 2017. He walks along a 1,130-meter river in the town twice a day to make sure that no rubbish floats on the river and no sewage is drained into the river.

Zhang used to be a contractor for a brickyard with 70-80 workers. The brickyard was demolished in 2013 because local factories had brought about severe water contamination.

He said he could earn over one million yuan, more than 150-thousand US dollars every year, when running the brickyard. But he agreed to close down his brickyard at that time because he wanted to do something for his hometown.

"I grew up here in the Baiquan Town. In the past, I witnessed the appalling environment here and I couldn't bear it. I want to do something. And I recommended myself when the local government recruited the voluntary river chiefs."

Zhang is not the only one. In Zhoushan city, 62 voluntary river chiefs were in service in 2017. All of them are native villagers.

Photo taken on December 29, 2017 shows the laundry zone in Baiquan Town, Zhoushan City, Zhejiang Province. [Photo: China Plus/Huang Yue]

Photo taken on December 29, 2017 shows the laundry zone in Baiquan Town, Zhoushan City, Zhejiang Province. [Photo: China Plus/Huang Yue]

In addition to selecting voluntary river chiefs, local government in the town has also built three ponds covering an area of over 7,000 square meters, where native villagers can spend their leisure time.

Yao Chunlei, an official in Baiquan town, says they have also built a special laundry zone for the villagers' convenience.

"In the past, nearby residents did the laundry by the river and caused the water pollution. Now we have a special laundry zone for them. After they finish their laundry, the wasted water will drain into the sewage disposal pool. Only the treated sewage could be drained into the river."

In December 2016, the central government released a document ordering the establishment of the river chief system, which requires officials at every level of government to take full responsibility for the protection of rivers and lakes in regions under their jurisdiction. 

Responsibilities of the river and lake chiefs will include water resource protection, pollution prevention, riverbank management and ecological restoration.

The river chief system is going to be established nationwide by the end of this year.

For CRI, this is Huang Yue.

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