While most people go to Hanshiqiao Wetland Reservoir for sightseeing and tourism, the Futures Academy and Niulanshan Middle school went there for different reason: to help solve the water crisis.
On Wednesday, May 4th, 2016, the students from the Futures Academy of the International School of Beijing, along with the Niulanshan No. 1 Middle School joined together and visited the Hanshiqiao Wetland Reservoir. This is the third phase of the “We are One” project. “We are One” is a project where the Niulanshan Middle School and the International School of Beijing study water quality.
“Everyone was really happy” says a student from ISB. The integration of Niulanshan and ISB was a good experience for both schools.
So far, the students have collected water from 2 places: The Wenyu River, and the Chaobai river. The Wenyu river is located closer to ISB, while the Chaobai is located closer to Niulanshan Middle School. This time, each school collects a water sample, taking them to their schools. They will run individual water sample tests, to see the quality of the water the collected.
The Hanshiqiao reservoir is located in the Eastern suburbs of Beijing. It is the only large-scale in the Beijing plain. In this reservoir, there are 153 unique species of birds, 2 species of country grade one protected animals, 17 species of nation second class protection animals, and 292 different species of plants.
In this reservoir, there are many different tourist activities one can participate in. For example, is the wetland sightseeing boat, where a tour guide explains about the wetland and the bird habits. The boat goes all around the wetland lake. There are also smaller, manual boats where you and another person can drive boats around in the same lake as the sightseeing boat.
“The waters in the lake seems very clean” observes a student from ISB.
Other activities include fishing, bicycling, and bird watching. In addition to the normal tourist activities, there are also some fun activities like the water walking ball, and the water flying roll, where you are put in a plastic ball or tube, and can walk or roll on top of the water. There is also a water bicycle where a ordinary bicycle is modified so it can float and move on the water surface.
There are 8 wetland pools in the reservoir. The first pool is the filthiest out of them all, algae covered, smelly, and filled with muck. The water for the first pool comes from the toilet next to the pools, so all the smelly and dirty waste from the toilet flows into the first pool, seeping into the plants and the dirt. The eighth pool is cleanest out of them all, with plants grown naturally. Though there are still some algae, it is filled with lily pads and plants. As you walk along the pools, they get cleaner and cleaner along the way, as the wetland pool number increases.
“I was surprised that they were confident enough in their natural filtration system to pump the water from the toilets through it into the first wetland pool.”
The Hanshiqiao reservoir is one of the reservoirs in Beijing where they are trying to save Beijing’s water. “This isn’t just a natural phenomenon. It has more to do with mankind,” said Liu Changming, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, adding that less water reaches Baiyangdian because the cities, factories and farms upriver are using more. Water is becoming more scarce in China. When there is a lack of water, people use more, because of the decreasing supply. The buildings, factories, and farms also use the water. As a result, the future supply of water may be in jeopardy.
The Hanshiqiao reservoir also protect marine life like fish. “Mandarin fish, blunt-snout bream, yellow croaker,” said fisherman Chen Enpo, 67, listing some of the species that have disappeared. “There are fewer fish now, and fewer species of fish too…On bad days, we don’t catch any at all.” The water quality problem has decreased the amount of marine life in water systems. If there is a decreasing population of fish, fishermen have less fish to catch, leading to less food for us to eat.
Wetlands in general sometimes contribute to help purify nearby water systems. The vegetation in the wetlands take the harmful substances that enter the water, and absorb them by their roots. Then, once the harmful substances are less harmful, they are released into the water. But wetlands can only do so much. We still have to be careful that we don’t throw trash into the water, and not let any of these harmful substances into the ecosystems.
While the Hanshiqiao Wetlands have this water purification system, some other water systems do not. The Yangtze does not have this water purification system, so many Chinese have suffered from the lack of good water.
“As the river is the only source of drinking water in Shanghai, it has been a great challenge for Shanghai to get clean water,” Xinhua quoted him as saying.
As the students go back to their schools to test the water samples that they collected, they reflect upon what happened, what they have seen, and what they can do to help. Soon, the students will be thinking of an action project, contributing to help solve the water quality crisis.
Even though that many students are helping to solve the crisis, they will only make small differences. But with many people making small differences, there overall difference can be great.
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