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Public playing its part in the important role of waterway protection

By YANG JUN in Guiyang and HOU LIQIANG in Beijing ( China Daily)

Updated: 2021-10-11

An intelligent water body management system with proactive contributions from officials and the public has been established in Guiyang, the Guizhou provincial capital, according to local authorities.

Along with other areas, Guizhou established a river chief system by the end of 2017.

Leading officials at different levels of government are appointed river chiefs to oversee the management of water bodies under their jurisdiction, and the system is linked to officials' performance evaluations.

Guiyang introduced an intelligent monitoring system to support the river chiefs' work. As part of its efforts to motivate public participation in river management, the city also appoints civilian river chiefs.

In October 2019, a big data system for water body management started operating in the city. This system automatically monitors water quality and provides footage of bodies of water in real time, according to the Guiyang government.

By using an app, river chiefs can check at any time the water conditions they oversee, the government said, adding that the system also provides data access to the river chief office and other government bodies related to water management.

In January, Guiyang also appointed 16 civilian river chiefs.

Deng Tao, an official with the Guiyang river chief office, said the civilian workers volunteer to take on such duties. In addition to patrolling the river, they monitor the government's work in addressing any problems they find.

"The appointment of civilian river chiefs effectively makes up for government bodies' insufficient manpower and material resources," Deng said.

He added that the Guiyang Qianren Ecological Conservation Center, an NGO, acts as a bridge between the civilian river chiefs and the government. Problems the volunteers find are collated by the center, which then reports them to the Guiyang river chief office.

Yang Haiqing, a civil servant with the Guizhou People's Procuratorate, is one of the civilian river chiefs.

A native of Qingzhen, Guiyang, Yang, 26, has many childhood memories of the Laoma River, which flows through his hometown.

"When I was a boy, we had no tap water, so the river was the source of our drinking water," he said. "However, as urbanization progressed, the river water became cloudy."

Yang applied for the river chief post soon after seeing the recruitment information. "I want to contribute to environmental improvements along the river," he said.

During weekends, he patrols the Laoma River 30 times, occasionally inviting relatives, friends and colleagues to the waterway, where they pick up waste together. He also shares his environmental protection knowledge with them.

Yang added that since he was appointed a civilian river chief, he has seen increased public participation in protecting the waterway.

He usually organizes river patrols three times a month, and with the help of WeChat to spread information about such work, nearly 100 people join the patrols each time.

"I have limited strength as an individual, but the potential of public contributions to environmental protection should never be underestimated," he said.

Zhao Yandi contributed to this story.

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