On the banks of the Pearl River, vendors set up shop daily at the Luwei village market. Mr. Liu wanders through the stalls at dusk, selecting vegetables and fish from the local fishmonger for dinner. As the sun sets on the murky river, he marvels at the disturbing transformation of the waterway he calls home.
“The water has turned dark and black,” he says.
“People used to swim in it,” a cabbage hawker says across the market. “We know it’s polluted, but what can we do?”
The Pearl River has sustained Chinese civilization for ages, but over the last few decades, civilization has not been kind to the river. It has become a dumping ground for debris, floating among massive algae blooms and even pig carcasses. Agricultural runoff is one of the river’s biggest threats, next to industrial pollution.