Education Resource

Why Qinghe Became So Dirty

Tianyu Huang with her mother. New York City.

Tianyu Huang with her mother. New York City.

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.

"This river was very clean before 1980. And there were more fish in the river. Also there were birds on the water," my mother said. Aijuan Lin, 49, is a housewife from LanTian village in Fujian, China. "But now, you can see it, so dirty, no fish and no birds on the water."

The Qinghe is a natural river. Before 1980, people drank the water or used the water in this river, and the river had much fish. Some people fished in the river, and some birds caught fish.

In China, in the 1980's and 1990's, the people's quality of life increased. They earned more money, and they started using water from the waterworks instead of taking water from the river. People who use the waterworks just turn on the faucet and the water comes out. It's easy to use. Meanwhile, people did not protect the river, and didn't save water. Some people lived close to the river and they just threw their garbage in the river.

Many years later, the garbage was too much, and fish couldn't live in the river. Almost all the fish died. Then some carnivorous birds didn't have any more fish to eat, and they just flew away. Other animals need water too, but the river was so dirty, they couldn't drink fresh water in the river, so they moved too.

Then, the river became blacker and blacker each day, and people who lived close to the river could smell some stink, and they left too. Today the river is very black and there are many flies on the river. People who saw this could vomit. If you saw this, I'm sure you would vomit too.

However, nobody wants to clean it up.

"But, now, many people are complaining about the river, because some of them are conscious the river is so dirty, they can get ill," my mom said. "I hope the government will act as quickly as possible to solve this problem."