Phase 1: Posing Real Questions

Updated 8 months 3 weeks ago

In Phase 0, I chose my inquiry project topic, which is water usage and treatment. Here in Phase 1, I will be learning background information about my topic and posing questions that I will later find the answers to in Xizhou. 

What do I already know?

In general, I do not know a lot yet about water usage and treatment, as I have never studied it specifically before. All I know I learned in different schools at different times while studying different projects. I already know the basic water cycle. I also know that water usage and treatment is a really large issue, one that even well developed countries and cities struggle with. I know that sustaining and maintaining a clean water supply is difficult, and that a lot of people therefore decide to drink from bottled water instead of tap water. I also know that water usage and treatment is not a new issue, and that the first aqueducts were built in Ancient Roman Times. I have also learned about irrigation systems in Ancient Mesopotamia before. 

Where I learned this from. 

I learned the basic water cycle in 6th grade, at my old school in the US. Reading is a favorite pastime for me, and I came to know of how water is a large issue by reading. I learned of how the Ancient Romans built the first aqueducts by reading as well, because I did a project on the Ancient Romans in 7th grade where we used books as the foundation of our research. At my house, we drink from bottled water, because my mom says the tap water in China is not safe to drink. While in 7th grade, again at my old school in the US, I learned about irrigation systems in a combined science and social studies project, specifically irrigation systems in Ancient Mesopotamia. 

What I want to know.

In general, I want to study either the irrigation systems or tap water quality in Xizhou. I want to learn about the irrigation systems specifically in Xizhou, and how it links to irrigation systems in other parts of China and the world. Maybe I could use my past knowledge about irrigation systems in Mesopotamia and compare and contrast them to ones in Xizhou. I am also wondering about tap water in Xizhou, specifically if it is clean and safe to drink, or if the locals prefer to drink bottled water instead. I am also wondering what the main sources of water are in Xizhou. I know it is Lake Erhai, based on research done by previous students, but I also want to know if there are any other water sources nearby, such as a river, where the locals could retrieve water from. I also want to understand how water is either recycled or disposed of in Xizhou, in addition to some laws around water in Xizhou. 

I did some background research about water usage and treament in order to expand my knowledge about the topic, which I will use to help me develop my big questions later in this phase. My background research on water usage and treatment can be found by clicking Phase 3

Next, I will develop a list of big questions that I will use as the starting point of my research once we arrive at the village of Xizhou. The words in italics are possible answers to the questions I came up with based on background research I already did in Phase 3. They are not all correct, they are just my inferences. 

1. What method(s) of irrigation do farmers in Xizhou use? 

I think that farmers in Xizhou most likely use surface or basin irrigation, because both are highly dependant on the water source and are arguably the cheapest and simplest methods of irrigation. Lake Erhai could be a valuable and constant water source for fields in the area in terms of irrigation. Surface and basin irrigation are both unpredictable, and are good for crops of little value such as rice, which is largely grown in rural China and possibly in Xizhou. In addition, surface and basin irrigation are good for low-income farmers because they are the simplest and cheapest methods of irrigating. I think that farmers higher up in the mountains could also use border irrigation. Border irrigation is simple, just like basin irrigation, and therfore is also cheap. However, since basin irrigation only works for level land, border irrigation would work well for fields set on sloping land around the mountains. 

2. Are these the methods they always used or has it changed over the years? If it has changed, how and for what reason?

If basin, border, and surface irrigation are the methods that farmers in Xizhou use, then I think that they would have been using them for a long time. Surface irrigation is the oldest form of irrigation, and all three methods are simple and have been developing for a long time. Therefore, if these are the methods farmers use in Xizhou than I am assuming they are the methods they have been using for a long time. 

3. Where do people in Xizhou get their water from? (Tap water, drinking water, and irrigation water)

I think that there are three possible sources from which Xizhou could retrieve water from; Lake Erhai, the mountains, and ground water. Perhaps the locals prefer different water sources for different purposes. 

4. How do people in Xizhou get their water? 

In order to reach underground water, people need wells, so if there is an underground aquafer in/around Xizhou than there should be wells to reach the water. In order to retrieve water from mountains/Lake Erhai I infer that there must be a series of aquafers and/or a network of canals and pipes to get the water to the village. 

5. Are the people of Xizhou satisfied with their water sources and quality? Why or why not? 

This is a question that I have to ask the locals, however based on my background research, there have been growing concerns for the water quality of Lake Erhai and many people are not happy. Actions are taking place to preserve the quality of the lake, and there are mixed feelings among the people in the region as to how the government is doing this. 

6. How is used water in Xizhou treated and disposed of?

In neigboring cities, such as Dali, when the tourism industry expanded there was a shortage of water and sewage treatment plants, so used water was often found being disposed of directly into Lake Erhai without being treated. The government has taken action, and this is not happening anymore, but I am wondering if something similar may have happened in Xizhou. 





I am 13 years old and I am really excited to be going to Microcampus. I was born in North Carolina, and since then I have lived in Minnesota, Switzerland, and now Shanghai. I chose to study water treatment and usage, because I think it will be really interesting to learn about and I will be able to use this information in the future. I look forward to improving my Chinese and broaden my views of the world while I am at Microcampus.