Traditionally, water patrol squads take up river patrolling as their main task, which includes conducting patrols, reporting and cleaning up. However, in recent years river patrol squads have also taken action to facilitate reutilization of livestock manure in line with resource recycling models, thus creating diverse economic benefits. The EPA invited members of the water patrol squad of Linluo Township, Pingtung County to share their experiences and achievements in conducting tasks from river patrolling to helping match farms for the utilization of manure digestate as farmland fertilizer.
Since 2002, the EPA has been promoting public participation in river patrolling, calling on citizens, communities, schools and organizations to join the ranks in protecting water environments. It also promoted patrol squad formation by counties and cities themselves across the country. As of July 2021, the number of water patrol squads across the country had reached 462, with a total of 13,125 members. After nearly 20 years of continuous promotion, there are currently four types of river patrol squads: community, school, industrial and others. They have been gradually developed into patrol squads that integrate local characteristics or professional skills in fields such as community building, environmental education, technological monitoring, culture and history, and ecological monitoring.
In Pingtung County, where the largest number of pig farms in Taiwan are located, there was often illegal discharge of wastewater from the livestock industry into the Linluo River basin in earlier times. This not only caused serious river pollution, but people nearby were also plagued by the stench of pig manure in the air. In addition to continuous inspection to improve the situation, the environmental bureau of Pingtung County also assisted in the formation of the Linluo Township water patrol squad. To start with, the squad informed livestock enterprises that the patrol team would schedule shifts to monitor the river every day, thus applying pressure on the enterprises. Placed under such continuous inspection and supervision, the enterprises showed goodwill and became willing to enhance the efficacy of pollutant removal at their wastewater treatment facilities. They even expanded their wastewater treatment facilities to develop green power generation capabilities.
The EPA started to push for the reutilization of livestock manure in 2016, and the Linluo Township water patrol squad became the first team that committed to the cause. The squad members voluntarily offered their own farmlands to be irrigated with livestock manure digestate, and also helped match nearby farmlands in need of fertilizer with digestate suppliers. Their devotion moved the surrounding livestock farmers to also commit together to livestock manure reutilization tasks by providing digestate to local organic farms as fertilizers. The organic farms also provided the fruit they harvested to community care stations for the elderly, forming a cycle of mutual benefit. Although there were only 17 members in the Linluo Township water patrol squad, they have demonstrated the strength of 1+1>2 by creating a multi-win result for the environment, agriculture, and the livestock industry.
Through the many precious experiences shared by the patrol team chief Mr. Li and the members of the Linluo Township water patrol squad, observers have learned about their persistence and hard work. Now, Pingtung County’s 22 water patrol squads have all, under the coordination of the environmental bureau, committed to act as important intermediaries that match livestock digestate suppliers with farmlands.
Excerpt from Major Environmental Policies, August 2021
- Environmental Protection Administration, R.O.C.(Taiwan)