Villagers volunteer as 'riverkeepers' for the Hanjiang River in Shaanxi

By Dong Senhe | | Updated: 2024-06-24 11:05
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A view of the source of Hanjiang River in Hanshuiyuan village of Ningqiang county, Hanzhong city, Shaanxi province. [Photo provided to]

As the primary water source for the middle route of China's South-to-North Water Diversion Project, the Hanjiang River, the largest tributary of the Yangtze River, holds immense environmental significance, particularly in safeguarding its source waters.

For residents in Hanshuiyuan village in Ningqiang county, Hanzhong city, Shaanxi province, - the birthplace of the Hanjiang River - they are all the guardians of this beautiful river.

"As a volunteer 'riverkeeper', I patrol the Hanjiang River every morning and afternoon," said Zhang Jirong, a resident of Hanshuiyuan village.

Zhang's family has earned a reputation for their dedicated protection of the Hanjiang River in the local area. It was Zhang Banggui, his grandfather, who initiated the practice of volunteering to patrol the river and collect litter in the waterway.

Located at the very source of the Hanjiang river, Zhang Banggui's ancestral home stands just a mere 10 meters away from the purest waters of the Hanjiang. Local village authorities said that he was the pioneer in fostering water conservation awareness within the community.

Starting in 2003, Zhang Banggui, an elderly man, embarked on a daily 5-kilometer walk along the riverbanks, diligently gathering various forms of waste left behind by villagers and visitors, armed with a pair of pliers and a trash bag. His decades-long actions told the villagers and tourists the significance of safeguarding the source of Hanjiang River. And he persisted in this for 15 years until his death in 2018.

Reflecting on his mission, Zhang Banggui once said: "Since I knew that my home was the first household at the source of the Hanjiang River, I have always felt a sense of responsibility to preserve the water source. When I see someone damaging the environment, I feel uncomfortable. Safeguarding the Hanjiang water is not just a choice but my inherent duty, considering its eventual journey to Beijing."

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