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Danang Riverwatch - Water quality supervising community model


   Danang Riverwatch is a model of community combining 5 subjects: students, researchers, authorities, citizens and community organizations. They work together to supervise, control and protect the aquatic environment in Quảng Nam - Đà Nẵng province. It is also an innovative aspect of higher education, as it utilizes groups of students specializinge in environment to spread its message. Students can learn through practice, apply their knowledge in real-life situations and help their communities.

    Initial ideas to build the model

   Water sources are declining in volume and quality due to socio-economic development impacts, natural disasters and climate change. Building a community actively and proactively supervising and controling water supplies are now necessary approaches to protect the aquatic environment.

   The idea of this advanced model is not new as it is popular in many countries all over the worldThe ozation such as River Keeper (1970), RiverWatch and RiverSmart (2001) in Australia; RiverWatch in Canada (1994); RiverWatch in America (2005). In Đà Nẵng city of Việt Nam, from a volunteer group backed by the College of Education and College of Technology under the University of Đà Nẵng and with help of non-governmental organizations, Action for the City (ACCD) and Clean Water Alliance have established the Danang RiverWatch Club with the mission of building and developing an active and proactive community to supervise and control water pollution. It is shown clearly in the logo, which features a water dragonfly and a lotus over a green river, reflecting a clean aquatic environment and a healthy eco-system.

   The Danang RiverWatch Club’s operational model focuses on 3 points: Enhancing the community awareness and skills through communications programmes that help with efforts to control the quality of river water in Quảng Nam - Đà Nẵng; building information channels to share databases on water sources in the city of Quảng Nam - Đà Nẵng provinces;  and implementing scientific researches and education programmes on aquatic environments.

   With specific actions carried out in areas near the lower reaches of the Vu Gia and Thu Bồn rivers in Quảng Nam - Đà Nẵng provinces, the model has gradually become accepted and made strides.

A model of the Danang RiverWatch Club community

   Principles for Danang RiverWatch Club model development

   A highlight of Danang RiverWatch Club is taking advantage of student forces to build and connect community resources, and supervise and control water quality.

   At universities, students have carried out a lot of scientific researches, but most stop at theory without applying their ideas in practice.

   Danang RiverWatch was established to help students apply their knowledge in practice, and implement projects benefiting the community and the living environment surrounding the applied area.

IInitial assessments of wastes causing surface water pollution in Cẩm Thanh commune, Hội An city, Quảng Nam province Building an educational programme on water protection for junior high school students with the aim to control pollution at the Nipa Forest in Cẩm Thanh commune of Hội An city
Mobilizing people to collect garbage and clean up the Trường Giang river in Quảng Nam province Studying the use of parameter DO-24 hours to assess risks for the aquatic ecosystem

   With support from professors and researchers, Danang RiverWatch has developed technology to monitor water and pollution based on ecological principles, education and environmental protection communications that are highly precise and feasible. Using the results of the research, the Club will co-ordinate with local authorities, non-governmental organizations and communities to experiment and apply the model in practice. When the results are positive, the model will be implemented and a group from the RiverWatch community will supervise, control and protect water sources.

   Some achievements of Danang RiverWatch

   So far, Danang RiverWatch Club has carried out more than 10 projects and built small groups in Quảng Nam - Đà Nẵng province. Danang RiverWatch has built 3 main groups in 3 localities: Cẩm Thanh commune in Hội An city, Lạc Câu village in province’s Thăng Bình district (Quảng Nam) and Hải Châu district (Đà Nẵng)city.

   The group in Cẩm Thanh commune has implemented 5 projects. It has defined local water environment issues, surveyed the awareness and interest of inhabitants regarding water pollution, and built a programme to monitor the water surface. It has also built an active and proactive community that is capable of detecting signs of water pollution and joining efforts to protect water in the Bảy Mẫu coconut forest eco-tourism complex. This is also in line with the Hội An authorities’ goal to make the town an “eco-city” by 2030.

   In conjunction with students at the Danang College of Education- , Danang RiverWatch has build a water environmental protection group near the Trường Giang river in Quảng Nam province under the programme “Building a communication programme to minimize pollution for the water of Trường Giang river, from residents’ living routines in Lạc Câu village, Bình Dương commune, Thăng Bình district, Quảng Nam province”. Through surveys on the causes of water pollution in the locality, the group has built a communication programme to protect water sources and mobilize local people to collect garbage to make a cleaner Trường Giang river.

   Taking advantage of students doing scientific researches at the universities, the group in Đà Nẵng city has carried out some projects on water quality monitoring and water treatment with eco-technology, such as studying the use of parameter DO-24 hours to assess risks for the aquatic ecosystem; and studying the possibility of using Vetiver grass for waste water treatment. The group is also working on a river bicycle tour aiming to connect Đà Nẵng people and tourists in an effort to protect the water of the city.

   Danang RiverWatch Club has built 3 water protection groups in Quảng Nam - Đà Nẵng, in line with its mission to develop communities. With support from professors, local authorities and community organizations, the club will carry out more projects such as “The community approaching water pollution and building a programme to monitor the problem in Cẩm Thanh commune of Hội An city”.

   Unlike other environmental clubs, Danang RiverWatch, with its professional knowledge and key forces, specializes in a narrow field of operation: monitoring and controlling water pollution, and related communication. Initial results from Danang RiverWatch have roused hopes from founders, advisers, sponsors and all members of the Club. The challenges facing the club include how to sustain the already-established group while training new students, who can eventually become environmental experts and travel abroad. We hope that this model will multiply in many other localities nationwide in the future, creating a Vietnam RiverWatch network - a community of Vietnamese people working together to protect water for sustainable development.

Đoàn Thanh Phương, Lê Thị Mai Hạnh

Faculty of Biology and Environmental Science

College of Education - Da Nang University

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