Resource January 7, 2011

The Water Problem in Dong Lian

Receding waterlines

China has more wetlands than any country in Asia, and 10 percent of the global total. They are...

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Image by Sean Gallagher

This article is from a student at Tenzer Learning Center in New York, NY. Tenzer participated in a series of visits with Pulitzer Center journalists leading up the High School News Literacy Summit at Baruch College in Manhattan.

"What! How could they do that!!" says my little brother with his angry face, and my father looks serious when I tell them about the water problem in our village in China now. Dong Lian is located in Fujian Province. "Why people don't know the importance of the water? Now the river is dry and dirty. It's too different from 25 years ago," my father starts recalling. Liangwei Chen, 55, is a chef. He tells me the story about the water issue 25 years ago.

Dong Lian village is located in front of a mountain. Many years ago, there were many streams on the mountain. Everyday the water came down the mountain into the wells that were so clean and sweet. The local people used the water to live. Everyday the water of the wells became less, but the next day the wells were full again from the streams. People protected the water for their life.

With the passage of time, people became remarkably lazy. They played in the streams, ate the BBQ near the streams, and threw the garbage into the streams. They didn't care any more. The rope of the bucket got longer and longer, which they used to get the water from the wells. Everyday the well became dirtier and dirtier. More than 100 families had problems with drinking water. The water had changed!

In 2010, the wells have dried-up. The water has become dirty and the smell is suffused in the air on the mountain. People cannot live without water. Some rich people have left the village. Some poor people have to get water from other places. According to Jian Xie, an environmental specialist from the World Bank, "It is essential to make sure that low-income groups will receive the basic water supply services when the water price is adjusted."

"Why do you think people don't care about it?" I asked my father. "Because nobody thinks one day the water will be gone. When I was young, the water was very clean and there was enough water. People were assigned jobs to protect the water everyday. As people's lives become richer, they start to care about the money more than the water," he said.

I asked him if he thinks sharing accurate, newsworthy information is important. "Yes, because the true information will help people understand what happens and solve the problem better," says my father.



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