In 2005, Tingyuan Community in Andong Village and Taikang Culture Promotion Society collaborated with the River Restoration Center in Chang Jung Christian University to promote environmental education in schools and to encourage the public to take part in river watch activities by conducting patrols as well as checking and recording pollution incidents regularly. Later in the same year, on April 22, the teachers, students, and parents of Haidian Elementary School started the “Little Taikang River Study Group” with the goal of protecting the rivers in Taikang. The Study Group cleans the riverbanks on a regular basis and promotes local education reform: by helping conduct research in river ecology and culture, the Study Group was able to include more schools to join and teach kids about environmental education and the importance of river ecology conservation. These schools – including Tainan Municipal Heshun Elementary School, Tainan Municipal Anshun Elementary School, and Tainan Municipal Ancing Elementary School, among others – also formed river watch patrol teams. All these efforts to protect the rivers in Taijinag started as early as in 2002, but till now the pollution problem around the Chianan Irrigation System area still remains unsolved. It is certain that more endeavors should be made because river protection is not only the conservation of rivers, but also a process that includes the local residents to be a part of something big. It is a way to revive the local culture. During this process, the locals also found that the real challenge was to help residents learn about the beauty of Taikang’s ecology and history and to develop well-established environmental education. In September, 2005, the 2nd Taikang Culture Festival and River Watch Volunteer Assembly in Southern Taiwan was held. Through the concept of “eco-museum,” the history, ecology, and pollution incidents of the Chianan Irrigation System was researched so as to 1) raise awareness about river pollution in Taikang and about the notion of river protection across Taiwan, and 2) develop a platform to discuss public policies and encourage public participation. At the same time, local authorities also work with the Environmental Protection Administration under the Executive Yuan and the Environmental Protection Bureau, Tainan City Government to come up with ways to alleviate industrial pollution in the Yanshui River and the Chianan Irrigation System by cracking down on illegally-installed pipes in order to prevent factories from discharging waste water.
In 2006, the “Little Taijiang River Study Group” worked hard with the Taijiang Culture Promotion Society, Taijiang Campus of Tainan Community University, Chao Huang Temple at Haiwei, etc. and made the first Sunday in May the annual “Taijiang Water Day.” Every year on this day, the event of “Chianan Irrigation System Bike Tour” is held to commemorate Yoichi Hatta, the Japanese engineer who designed the Chianan Canal. By doing so, the organizers wish to urge the public to reflect on policies regarding river conservation and management, and propose that a sewage treatment plant be built. The organizers also hope that, in the future, a green trail and bike lane can be built along the Chianan Canal. Every year, hundreds of teachers, students, and parents would ride bikes along the Canal all the way up to the Wusanto Reservoir and more and more people are joining in.
In addition, from 2011 on, Taijiang Campus of Tainan Community University, Chao Huang Temple at Haiwei, and the “Little Taijiang River Study Group” have been working with Taiwan Thousand Miles Trail Association to initiate the Taijiang Shanhaizun (which means “mountain, sea, and canal”) Green Trial Movement and it successfully led to the cooperation of Taijiang National Park and the Tainan City Government, and the founding of the Tainan Shanhaizun Green Trial Committee. With the goal of protecting rivers and planting trees along the trail, the Committee plans to create a green trail from Taijiang National Park to the Wusanto Reservoir and plant trees along the Chianan Canal. The Shanhaizun Green Trial is estimated to be 45 kilometers in total and it will certainly become the first model of public green living space in Tainan and will turn Taijiang into an eco-friendly place with culture and energy. The Taijiang River Watch Movement indubitably relives the spirit of the early Jianzihpu settlers, as locals work with NPOs in a bottom-up fashion. It is indeed the best example of public participation and what it can achieve.
source: Wu, Mao-cheng. Taijiang Inner Sea and Its Villages. Tainan: Cultural Affairs Bureau, Tainan City Government, 2013. 70, 150, 183-187, 379, 383, 507-509. Print.
photos provided by Taijiang Campus, Tainan Community University and Annan District Office, Tainan City Government.