Dec. 04, 2023
Beijing River Watch: Project Description

China’s water crisis - exemplified by scarcity and pollution - has been the subject of national and international concern for years, and Beijing can be seen as a microcosm of the larger national problem. As Zhang Junfeng (a member of Green Earth Volunteers) stated in a recent interview, “Beijing’s story is the story of China. Beijing’s ecology can only support several million people, but the city is almost 20 million. China has the same problem.” In recent years, the annual water supply in Beijing has declined to roughly 100 cubic meters (or 26,417 gallons) per person and much of this limited supply is badly polluted. Even without accounting for polluted water, Beijing’s supply falls far below the internationally recognized standard of 1,000 cubic meters per person per year and even slightly below UNESCO’s designation of 300 cubic meters as the absolute minimum annual per capita water supply necessary to ensure a modern and productive social life.

Despite the severity of the situation, many of Beijing’s residents feel disconnected from these problems. Even for the most ardent nature-lovers, it is difficult to feel connected to nature in the proverbial concrete jungle. There is always clean water coming out of the faucet and the rivers in the city (those that haven’t yet dried up) are relatively clean.

So in order to provide Beijing residents with a chance to get outside of the city and see the rivers in surrounding areas with their own eyes, Green Earth Volunteers has organized a weekly eco-water tour (乐水行 in Chinese) every Saturday for the past two years. Every week we go to a different spot, often with an expert to lead the way. We’d love to get more people involved, so please come and join us one Saturday!

For more information on the tours, see our homepage or contact