Submitted by: Huaihe River Guardian (full name: Huaihe Water System Eco-Environment Research Center)
Implemented country: China
Title: Clean Drinking Water from Fetid Sewers
Daishan Huo, his wife Sulin Dong, their three children and all of their extended family live in the city of Shengiu in the province of Henan. Until 1998 Daishan Huo worked as a journalist. Among other things he was the editor-in-chief for the Beijing Leather Magazine, and a press photographer as well. Then he decided to change his life for the benefit of the environment. He found the incentive for that decision right in front of his very own door: the Huaihe River – a filthy, foul sewer that winds its way through the countryside for over 1,000 kilometers. For 20 years the Huaihe served as a waste dump for the Chinese industry. The river’s water is completely contaminated. Nearly 300 million Chinese villagers suffer from a lack of drinking water; 190 million Chinese have no option but to drink polluted water. The consequences are cancer, infertility and newborn babies with severe birth defects. In 2001 Huo Daishan founded Huaihe River Guardian, an organization with the goal of protecting the Huaihe River, safeguarding the drinking water supply for the locals, and restoring nature along the river.
In China, drinking water often is obtained through deep wells. Daishan Huo does not consider this a good and sustainable idea. Instead, his organization believes in using an innovative eco-technology solution from Japan. This system turns shallow river water into drinking water without using any chemical additives. This kind of water purification works according to the principles of a biological swimming pool. Bacteria, parasites, viruses, synthetic laundry detergents, ammonia as well as water-soluble substances are filtered out of the water. Iron and manganese are reduced. Despite this visible and potable success, much needs to be done in terms of creating more awareness, but Daishan Huo knows: Our resources are limited and we have to bear future generations in mind.
Since 2008, Huaihe River Guardian has revamped 22 water systems in 9 villages and 6 cities. Cancer rates are down by 70 per cent. The villagers manage their own drinking water, they themselves service the system, and even the spare parts are made in the villages. As compared to conventional wells, this new method saves more than 70 million tons of CO2 for a town with a population of 500. Costs have gone down by two thirds. In the future Daishan wants to work more closely with the local water authorities and get the government to participate in his own style of a “Water Revolution.” Huaihe River Guardian consists of the following very, very committed people: 9 full-time employees, more than 1,000 volunteers, and 5 Board Members. Together they sacrificed 10 years of work, which have meanwhile been recognized repeatedly and internationally as well. Since 2011, 20 additional systems have been built, which present an enormous benefit to over 12,000 villagers.
"Water has a great personality. Without any personal benefit, it makes the whole world a more fruitful place. I want to help the world through clean water.”