Feature Article: WenYu River
Students held tight onto bamboo sticks while other students used duct tape to hold their water collection devices in place. “Finally!” students exclaimed as they are finished making their water collection devices. Groups of four students each- consisting of 2 ISB students and 2 Niu Lan Shan students finally tested how well they engineered the water samplers. Three students from each group leaned forward looking down at the seemingly high turbid level water as one student slowly lowered the water tester down into the void.
It was a sunny Wednesday morning, April 13th, where about 80 students from both Niu Lan Shan middle school and International School of Beijing Futures academy went to the WenYu river for the launch of the project “We Are One.” The guiding question asks students how they can clean the local waterways of Beijing as a community. When students disembarked the bus after the 15 minutes trip to the WenYu, they walked down the mini hill to see the gloomy, thick river filled with trash. “I wonder what all the black layers floating at the top of the river are?” A puzzled student questioned himself.
“I wonder if all the trash comes from the nearby apartments?” Another student asked while pointing to the many apartments right next to the river.
The WenYu river is one of the main waterways of Beijing, and it is a human resource. Unfortunately, it is being severely polluted by sewer waste. Beijing alone produces 6,800 tons of human waste per day, almost enough to fill three Olympic swimming pools, but instead of going into pools, it gets flushed into the sewers which dump into Beijing’s waterways; creating tons of water pollution and deadly bacteria.
Students also thought that the trash might come from people littering nearby so the students from both schools started out their half day field trip by picking up trash nearby the river, students found a lot of trash nearby the river mostly including styrofoam, plastic, cigarette butts and more.
From a bird’s eye view, you can see that there could be a lot of reasons that the river might be polluted which includes Pinnacle Plaza nearby the river. There are many restaurants there that dump their leftovers, therefore resulting in a polluted water system. A big portion of the waste pinnacle plaza produces is a BBQ restaurant which produces most of the waste compared to the other shops in Pinnacle Plaza.
Other waste sources along the long WenYu river include golf courses. According to the famous website, Beachapedia, golf courses can pollute a lot of the local waterways: “To develop a golf course, many acres of land may have to be cleared of natural vegetation and habitat, graded, and planted with what is often non-native grasses, trees, and shrubs. All that pretty green grass takes a lot of water, fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides to maintain. The local water supply may or may not be adequate for the required irrigation needs. Chemical use, combined with over-irrigation may cause contamination of groundwater aquifers, surface water bodies, and the ocean. Native plants and animals may be destroyed/driven out. Natural coastal dunes or other coastal features may be covered over. ”
All the pesticides run into the water and can dilute the river properties making it more acidic than before. There are a total of six golf courses next to the WenYu river. Golf courses are not the only threat to natural waterways; threats also include the Beijing airport. Tons of airplane fuel flow into the waterways of Beijing everyday as many planes take-off.
As the students picked up the trash they could observe a lot of plastic bags and food wraps, which they could easily relate to the fact that many fast food restaurants are nearby such as McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC and more. They also found shattered pieces of flower pots as that could relate to the fact that many people are selling flowers nearby the river.
“I wonder if the flower sellers use the dirty water to feed the plants?” A student asked our science facilitator.
Very soon our ISB Futures academy students will complete an action project to help the Beijing waterways and make it cleaner than ever before and make Beijing great again.
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