Xizhou is a small village in the southwest part of China; I come here for 28 days to learn about a topic of my high personal interest. My topic is water usage/treatment here in Xizhou. I chose this topic because water has always been amazing to me. Water is a mysterious thing, it is not as simple asH2O, it is actually really complex.
Not that many people over here in Xizhou understand the water they are drinking, so it is hard for me to get information from Si Fang Jie. Mostly I get my information from the water treatment plant next to the Linden Centre, and after realizing that people in the village square do not really know that much of my topic, I bike down to Erhai everyday to interview people who have been living near Erhai for at least 20 year to witness the changes of Erhai. I ask people about the water moment here in Xizhou, and I also ask about the role of Erhai. During my investigation of water usage and treatment in Xizhou, I learned about the flow of water through the Erhai region as well as the role of Lake Erhai.
Water Movement In the Erhai Region:
There are three water sources in Xizhou: there is Erhai, the underground water, and water that flows down from the Mountains. Most villagers here in Xizhou receive their water from underground water through wells and tap water. According to Mr. Shi, Who owns a small Popsicle shop, Underground water is the cheapest water source here in Xizhou and the mountain water is the most expensive. When we were on the hike, the family on the top of the mountain just gets their water from a clear stream of water on the side of their house. The mountain water flows down by streams and then will eventually end up into pipes that will pump the water into people's homes. The tap water company pumps their water from 100 meters underground. Xizhou's underground water is one of the best water sources here in the whole Erhai region. However, the underground water has small bit of dust and chips of wood inside it. The ground water is plentiful for now, but if more and more people move in to Xizhou it is going to run out. Xizhou is one of the first villages to take water from underground and not from the mountains.
When people use the aqueduct system it is mainly used for pumping the water from Lake Erhai into farms and villages. According to Mr. Wang, who is a engineer at the water treatment plant, There are three different kinds of aqueducts: one is for only pumping water out of Erhai, and the other two pumps water to farther places. The way in which they use the aqueduct is interesting. It pumps the water to a high area, and then the water will slowly flows down to the bottom. The water pumps will only be active when people needs the water, for example, when the farmers plant new plants or at the dry seasons.
It is also important to look at water usage in homes and farms. People here in Xizhou are not that rich, so they save water as much as they can. All of the big restaurants that I have interviewed do not save water because they said that it is difficult to conserve water in a big restaurant. It is a different story in homes. People here in Xizhou always conserve water at their houses because it is expensive. The way of how they conserve water is mostly by reusing the cleaning water. On the farms, the irrigation system here in Xizhou gets their water from Erhai, which is been pumped up. People here in Xizhou use ditch irrigation system, which means theat the farmers dig channel of water, which has ditches where the water will flow into the farms.
After the water flows through the villages and farms, all of the wasted irrigation water will flow back to Erhai. However, the wastewater coming out of the village will end up inside the water treatment center. To see the process of the water treatment plant, look at the video above.
The Role of Erhai:
Erhai's role is really important here in the whole Erhai region, with Erhai being used for multiple reasons. Erhai has been around since the beginning of Xizhou, so it always has an effect on Xizhou. When Erhai changes, the Erhai region changes as well.
In the past the lake was mainly used for fishing. According to Mrs. He, who owns a small restaurant next to the tonged of Lake Erhai, The water was much cleaner, there were used to be sandy beaches, and there also used to be a lot of fish inside Lake Erhai. People did not have to worry about fishing. However, in the past, there were a lot of fishing boats, and those fishing boats often leak oil where it will create a black oil mark on Lake Erhai.
The role of Erhai mainly focuses on the aqueduct system used to supply water to places that are not easy accessible to water. The government is now trying to help out about the pollution of Lake Erhai. The government only allows people to fish for two month a year. They also installed a small water filter. When the water comes down from village to Erhai, it goes through a simple JDL treatment. JDL treatment utilizes membrane technology for clogging small particles and adopts attended pulse vibration techniques to avoid membrane blockage.
Problems of Erhai:
The main problem of Erhai is the current control and illegal night fishing. In the past, water current was controlled by nature, so humans did not really need to worry about it. This was the same with fishing in the past.
Before, in the dry season, the water level would decrease and wash away any waste in Erhai. Fishing in the past was not a big deal because before, there was a large supply of fishes in Erhai. However, more then 90% of it are gone.
The water current is now controlled by a manual dam, which means the whole current of Erhai is controlled by man. The man only opens up the dam if water level is too high. That causes the water not to flow as naturally as before, that means that waste in the water will not be washed away. The dam does not help nature. The water plants absorb the bacteria, which help to clean the water. However, if the water would not flow, the water plants will dissolve in the lake, which means all the bacteria will be released again.
Currently, fishing is only allowed for two months a year. However, every day two to three families come out at night when the government turns blind eye and then fish. When we did the camp out at the tongue of the Erhai, I saw fishing boat going out into the middle of Erhai at around nine o’ clock. Is not the when they come out at night that is the main problem, it is the way how they fish at night. According to Mr. Yang, a fisherman, they use electric rods to shock and kill the fish. This not only reduces the population of living fish, but it also kills the eggs and the small fish. This has a long-term effect on the fish population because it reduces the number of young fish who would otherwise grow up.
Have took a lot of things from the Inquiry project experience, it have been like a life lessons to me. I learned how to put all the sources that I have gathered, put them into groups and then formatting them. I also realized that this is my first essay that I have gathered information by myself and not from other websites. I also learned about how to interact with people who I do not know.
I have encountered many difficulties during my investigation of my topic. This is my first time that I interact with people that I just meet; it was really awkward at first. However, when the friendship built up, we become friends. It was also hard to put all the information that I got together. I start of with bunch information and do not know what to do with them, after multiple tries for putting it together, Mr. Tafel told me a method that solved my difficulties.
It have been fun doing research of the topic of my own interest. The important thing was I learned new things about everyday here on Microcampus. One time I learned about how they put fishes in wells, and if the fishes die, it means that the water is dirty.
While researching my topic here in Xizhou, I have learned more and more about it. It is my first time spending that long to research about a topic, and the topic is a personally pick. When I was researching about this topic in or around Xizhou, I was surprise on how much I could find out just by asking someone who is local and understands the topic. When talking about the big question with the locals here, I also ask about how it have impacted their life, and that helps me understand more about them, and their lifes.
Doing this project help me to gain my confident around people. I remember about how I first arrived here in Xizhou, then going out to interact with the locals the first time. I was shy and afraid. I feel like that I might have asked the wrong question, or might get false information; it was hard for me. However, after doing this for multiple of times, I feel more confident and less shy.
If I have the ability for of time travel, and I could go back to the beginning of Microcampus, I would give many suggestions to me so that I could have the best Microcampus trip. I will tell myself to always make sure that you are having positive impact on the community, and get involve with actives. Finish your work fast so that you could have more free time to go out for a adventure.
If I continuing with my project after Microcampus, I will get more information, more sources, and double-check the information. I also suggest if anybody else who want to continue with their project they should do the same thing.
Remember, I could have done this work all by my self. I only organized the information the local people gave me. I really like to thank everyone in the village who had help me with my inquiry work. Also I want to give a special thinks to the chaperons Mr. Tafel, Mrs. Mai, Cecily, and Evy. Not a word from this project could be written with all of those people. THANK YOU!