Improving awareness about clean water

In the Chinese city Langfang, clean water is unfortunately not abundantly available. When discussing a community activity for 2014, our local colleagues from Decorative Paints therefore agreed to direct their contribution by helping to reduce water pollution in the nearby rivers. The first step was to visit the two main rivers in the city and monitor their condition regarding pollution. Their findings were a bit disappointing as quite some garbage was floating around and in close consultation with the local government a plan for a major clean-up was made.

To this end, special tools were needed and the Community Program Staff was contacted for support. The advice was given to expand the project in order to make it more sustainable. As creating awareness should preferably start at a young age, it was decided to contact the New Century Middle School where more than 2,000 students are educated. The school was more than happy to show the premises and explain how water is being used by the students. As most of the students have lunch in the canteen, a lot of dishes have to be done and the students also need to wash their hands. Spread over the various buildings there are about 210 taps. The students normally entirely open the taps, wasting a lot of clean water. During the orientation, our technical colleagues noticed some damaged pipes where a lot of water was leaking.

A plan of action was made to help reduce the water usage and create more awareness among the students about the importance of clean water and improved economic usage. The 45 volunteering employees were split into two teams. Early in the morning of May 26, 15 employees arrived at the New Century Middle School ‘armed’ with special tools to install special valves at the 210 taps, reducing their capacity by 50%, to repair the leaking water pipes and to paste stickers above the taps, providing information about the right use of water. Before actually starting the planned activities our volunteers attended the daily flag-raising ceremony and reported about their water saving project to the thousands of students present.

On June 5, 32 volunteering employees arrived at Lanfang’s Cultural Center to prepare for the cleaning of 7.5 km of polluted river. Safety instructions were given and the necessary tools and safety equipment divided among five teams, which were subsequently transported to the riverside by bus. Our volunteers worked in teams of two, one person using the special tool to collect the debris from the water and the other one to handle the safety rope to keep his or her teammate safe. The bags in which the garbage was deposited were afterwards delivered to the garbage collections.

The carefully prepared cleaning activity drew the attention of the Langfang television and broadcast radio station. They interviewed coordinator of the project Maggie Zhu, who gladly explained the importance of safe and clean water to the public. Involving the students in their activities made this project a good example of a sustainable initiative.