Phase 3: Interpreting Information

Updated 1 year 7 months ago

Phase 3 is where I will be conducting the background research of my topic, water usage and treatment in Xizhou. This phase is one of the key phases in my Inquiry Project because it sets the stage for my learning and knowledge as I move forward in my project. It will also give me a reference of my research, if I do not remember all of it while I am in the village. All of my research will be divided into these categories; Background Information (from Phase 1), Information from 3-5's, Information from Local Contacts, and the Answers to my Previous Questions (from  Phase 1), as well as my sources.

Background Information (from Phase 1):

The main lake, also known as the "mother lake" in the Yunnan Province is Lake Erhai. Lake Erhai is also the main fresh water source for the village of Xizhou.[1] Many of the locals in Xizhou have a very strong knowledge about the water, due to the fact that many of them are farmers.[1] In Xizhou, there are three aqueducts. The first is responsible for pumping the water from the lake to the village. The other two are used to pump the water to areas that are farther away from the lake and Xizhou.[1] In the Yunnan province, there is a large state owned water company by the name of The Yunnan Water Industry Investment and Development CO, which in involved in the urban water infrastructures, investment and operations.[2] The company is based on cutting edge technology. This gives it a leading edge  and allows it to handle complex water pollution problems in Yunnan.[2]

Over quite a long period of time, the water in Lake Erhai has changed vastly. At one point in time, the water in the lake was so clean, that children were allowed to swim in it and drink from it. Nowadays, the people of Xizhou are only allowed to fish in it during a certain 2 months out of the year.[3] The once crystal clear water of Lake Erhai is now a milky white, due to the polluting companies nearby, say local residents and officials. The Dali government blamed unauthorized waste outlets as the main source for the pollution.[4] 

If one were to walk past one of the lakes in the Yunnan Province of China, there would most likely encounter three prohibition signs; drinking the lake water, swimming/bathing in the water, and consuming aquatic products from the lake.  Out of the 53 lakes in the Yunnan Province, 27 are not considered "environmentally functional".[5] It was said that Lake Erhai was once at a turning point betwen medium and heavy eutrophication, which would remove the oxygen from the lake and lead to the death of all the living organisms in it.[5]

In January of 2008, the People's Gaovernment of Dali banned fishing in Lake Erhai for six months, with the hopes that it would help the lake recover quicker.  Along with this, the government also closed off 2.1 kilometers of aquatic life to the public for the entire year. [6]  In November of 2010, the Dali Government stated that the water in Lake Erhai has recovered so well, that it had reached an overall water quality of level II, the second best quality rating. [6]

Once I arrived in Xizhou, I went to the library at the Linden Centre. As I was scanning the shelves, I came across a book called Water by Steven Solomon. The book talks about China's history with water, as well as what role water places in civilization. 

Most of the Chinese civilization formed around the Yellow and Yangtze rivers.[9] This shows that most civilizations form around bodies of water, such as Erhai. The Grand Canal's completion was one of the turning points in water history.[9] It was able to connect the water ways of these two massive waterways, to create the worlds largest inland water transportaion system.[9] The canal istself carries more than 15 time the amount of water the Yellow river itself carries.[9] The canal made farming life much more simple in the more rural areas of China.[9] 


Information from 3-5's: 

When I was completeting my 3-5's for Phase 2, I was able to get some information from the people that I interviewed. Below is the information that I was able to to pull from the 3-5 conversations with Mr. Tafel, Ms. Mai, and Mr. Jake. 

Mr. T[7]

  • The government built multi-million dollar water treatment plant.
  • A man from Harvard University lived in Xizhou for a few years.
  • He came to realize that the nearby swamp land did an equal (if not better) job purifying the water.
  • The lake contains algae, which means that there should be good balance of life and plant, which is not 100 percent true. 
  • Nitrogen is the main source the algae uses to grow.
  • Nitrogen comes from the fertilizer that is used to crow the cash crops.
  • The fertilizer is making the once fresh water lake turn into a lake that you cannot drink straight from like you used to.


 Information from Local Contacts:

Mr. Zhao[8], March.15.2016 

  • You were able todrink the water straight from the well.
  • The well was in every courtyard in most homes had a well.
  • When he was younger, everyone used wells to get water. 
  • The wells were pure ground water that was dug up by the villagers.
  • There were experts who told the local people where to dig the wells, so that they did not have to dig to deep to get the water.
  • The people also got their water from the melted snow on the mountain tops.
  •  This caused issues because the people who lived closer to the mountains/on the mountains got cleaner water.
  • As the modern farmers began using fertilizers, they ended up polluting the water for the people who were farther away.
  • In the 1970's, a new water plant opened up just uphill from Si Fang Jie.
  • At fisrt, the locals did not move over to the water form the plant, but they slowly did. 
  • The people also got water from the lake. 
  • Erhai was clean enough for people to drink and bathe in.
  • Once the poepl began to shower in their own homes.
  • Slowly the people stopped using Erhai.
  • The lake's water quality slowly declined.

Mr. Yang[10], March.16.2016

  • The water that is treated comes from all the villages near Xizhou to be treated.
  • The water that is treated is mostly waste water from the local home in the village.
  • The water begins by collecting in a small pool.
  • This pool only contains the polluted water. 
  • After the polluted water is collected, it is sent into a machine that pumps it into a larger pool of water. 
  • Near the larger pool, there is a small "laboratory" that is used to add the "medicine" that treats the bacteria in the water.
  • After this, it is pushed into a larger machine that takes care of the larger waste products in the water.
  • Once it has been treated, it is pumped into a pipe that carries it to another pool, where it stays until it is sent out to Erhai, the local farms and the swamplands that are at the plant. 
  • The left side of the barrier is the polluted water that has been treated and the right side is the rain water that has been treated.
  • The rain water is aslo treated in the same process, but is then placed in a seperate pool so that the clean water, and the rain water do not mix. 
  • Note that the water that is treated there cannot be consumed by people. 

Mr. Yang[11], Mar. 21. 2016

  • The water that he uses comes from the mountains.
  • The water is treated at the plant that is uphill from Si Fang Jie
  • He uses the water for cooking, cleaning, drinking, and other everyday life needs. 
  • He also uses ground water from a well.
  • He uses around 20 liters of water every month. 
  • He pays for the water every year.
  • Every store and restaurant has a courtyard that is behind it. 
  • Most of these courtyards has a well.

Ms. Song[12], March. 21. 2016

  • Her restaurant gets the water from the water plant uphill from Si Fang Jie.
  • They use the water to clean the dishes at the restaurant.
  • She uses the water at her house for the usual lifestyle uses.
  • She uses bottled water that she got from the supermarket.
  • They mix the water with the fruit juice to make the juice.
  • The ice cream that is there uses the same water. 

Ms. Li[13], March. 21. 2016

  • The farm water is from the water plant near the Linden Centre.
  • She gets her home water from another plant in another village.
  • The water comes to the fields when it is needed.
  • When she was my age, she used a well for her water.
  • She drank water from a smaller lake called the "west lake" that is in another village.
  • The lake became to dirty to drink from in 2006.
  • She lived 20 km away from the lake.

Mr. Hang[14], March. 22. 2016

  • The water at the temple comes from the mountains, even thought they are right next to the water plant.
  • He comes from the village that is across the Erhai.
  • He says that the water here is more pure than the water from his village.
  • He said this because his village gets their water from a mountain that is less tall. 
  • He says that the women here are more beautiful because of the pure water that they drink.
  • He also uses the water for everyday life.

All of the information above has helped to interpret the areas that I have been looking into while in the village. I was able to interpret where the water comes from, how it is treated, and how it is used in daily life. 


Answers to Previous Questions (from  Phase 1):

Below are the questions that I was able to answer from Phase 1. These are the questions that stood out the most while I was gathering information from the local contacts here in Xizhou. The ones that were not very helpful can be found in my Phase 1 work. The answers are below the questions in italics. Please note that these are my original questions.

1. Where exactly is the water purified? Is it done locally in Xizhou, or is it done somewhere else?
It is done at the two purification plants that are in Xizhou.

2. I know that there is a lot of farming in Xizhou, however what else is the water used for?
It is also used for daily life things such as cooking and cleaning.

3. How much of the water is acually purified in the village?
Almost 85-95% of the water is purified in Xizhou.

4. Where does the water go after the locals use it?
It goes back into the plant, so that it can be purified again.

5. How do the locals access the water?
It is brought through pipes to the homes of the locals.

6. If the water that is purified cannot be cunsumed by people, where do they get their drinking water from?
There is a second water plant that is focused on drinking water. 

7. Do the locals get their water from the nearby mountains, or does it only come from the purification plant?
Some people well, and others get water from the mountain tops.

During Phase 3 of my inquiy project, I did a lot of researching out in the village, as well as gathering a suffecient amount of infromation. I have gathered enough information to move on to Phase 4, in which I will be planning on how I will be sharing this information. I know that I have gathered enough information during this phase becuase I have no gaps in my information. Please see Phase 4 to continue the journey.


1. Jack Y's. Phase 3 Microcampus work
2. "Yunnan Water Industry Investment and Developement Co." 18 May 2014. Web. 30 Jan. 2016
3. Banner C's. Phase 3 Microcampus work
4. "China Authorities Investigate Pollution in China's Iconic Erhai Lake." 26 Mar. 2014. Web. 9 Feb. 2016.
5. "Yunnan's Lakes and Rivers Deteriorating Rapidly - GoKunming." GoKunming. 21 Apr. 2009. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.
6. "Dali Bans Fishing on Erhai Lake for Six Months - GoKunming." GoKunming. 02 Jan. 2008. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.  
 "Dali Bans Fishing on Erhai Lake for Six Months - GoKunming." GoKunming. 02 Jan. 2008. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.
7. Mr. Tafel, 3-5's
8. Mr. Zhao, Yang Zhou Ran's Bao An
9. Solomon, Steven. Water.
10. Mr. Yang, the worker at the local water treatment plant. 
11. Mr. Yang, The Golden Flower Restaurant
12. Ms. Song, The Juice Restaurant
13. Ms. Li, Farmer
14. Mr. Hang, The man at the temple




Hi! I am Aniketh. I was born in Royal Oak, Michigan, but lived in Novi for a decade. I play ice hockey, as well Dj and produce electronic music. I moved to India when I was 10, and spent a year and a half there. I then moved to Shanghai last year, and will be leaving after ninth grade. I was in Xizhou in March of 2016, and it was an amazing experience! I got to learn so much not only about the village and its history, but about me and my habits. To any of the future groups, please make sure that you follow Mr. T's directions and you get your work done on time. Enjoy your trips!