Watering a New Crop of Students

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Watering a New Crop of Students

Cummins employees take a break during a work project at Zhuji Middle School in Xiangyang, China

Posted: October 2014

It all started with a letter. And it ended with a teaching moment for students at the Zhuji Middle School.

The principal of Zhuji Middle School contacted Cummins Recon China (CXMC) to request help regarding a serious water problem at the school. Located in Xiangyang, China, the school serves more than 1,600 teachers and students who rely on drinking water from a 36-meter deep groundwater well. The well water was unsafe, causing health problems for many at the school.

Led by Peng Shao, Health, Safety and Environment Supervisor, a project team from Cummins came together to develop a safe water solution for Zhuji.

“We had monthly brainstorming discussions, and each team member had different responsibilities, like contacting different resources, designing layout or planning the process for the project,” said
Dengfeng Jiang, Product Engineer and Community Involvement Team Leader.

The team used the business problem-solving tool Six Sigma to select the project theme and scope, and visited the school to conduct water quality research and build water monitoring stations.

Eventually construction began at Zhuji to install water purification equipment, including laying 100 meter-long pipes. A before-and-after comparison of water quality from the well was tested after the equipment was installed, to ensure the water was safe for Zhuji teachers and students to drink. The equipment also monitored water flow capacity to help ensure that water was not wasted.


The quest for water safety did not end with a purifier. The project team also promoted water protection in the community, visiting a sewage treatment plant and holding a ceremony where Zhuji students and teachers took an oath to protect local water bodies.

Cummins employees distributed material on water protection in coordination with the Water Bureau, Education Bureau and the nongovernmental organization Green Han River. The middle school plans to include a new environmental course with specially developed textbook.

As a result of this project:

  • 7.8 million liters of water will be purified every year.
  • 1.3 million liters of water will be saved every year.
  • More than 3,000 community members received environmental awareness information on the importance of water protection.
  • The project benefited from strong leadership support, driven by General Manager Henry Peng.

“Henry Peng visited Zhuji with us multiple times and engaged leadership to support this project as much as possible, to engage employees and review the activities,” said Shao.


In addition to being selected as a 2013Environmental Challenge winner, the project also received the distinction of Best New Entry. The first-time CXMC project team already has plans to use their $10,000 Environmental Challenge grant to further the project’s reach.

“We will use the grant funding for continued improvements to the water ecosystem at Zhuji Middle School, including a water saving device,” said Jiang. “We will also look to help other schools
around Zhuji out of an unhealthy water situation.”

The success of the project at Zhuji Middle School has attracted the attention of the local Water Bureau, which will help spread this project to other schools in the area.

“There are 57 schools around Zhuji that experience the same water safety issues,” said Shao. “If we can improve the situation at Zhuji, it can be copied by others to impact more than 25,000 people in Xiangyang.”


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