Guardian of water on glacier in Tibet

To facilitate regular monitoring water sources, Norbu Rinchen, a young Tibetan man, set an unconventional office at an elevation of over 6,000 meters in the Nyainqentanglha Mountains in southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region.

Working in a local waterworks in Damxung County of Lhasa City, approximately 140 kilometers from the Nyainqentanglha Mountains, Rinchen's job is to collect water samples and test water quality. The water processed by the waterworks comes from the melting glaciers on the mountains which he has to visit regularly.

Nyainqentanglha Mountains. /CFP
Nyainqentanglha Mountains. /CFP

Nyainqentanglha Mountains. /CFP

The location of the water source on the mountains changes frequently, so does Rinchen's work site. It is not convenient and safe taking all equipment to the location every single time. In 2017, after a few months of field work, Rinchen made a decision to set up a stationary working site on the glacier.

Working on the glacier at an high altitude is not an easy job.

In winter, the temperature drops at minus 20 degrees Celsius. For about three months of the year it is windy.

"When the wind is strong, it can blow you away. It blows like knives, and sometimes the wind carries sand and you can't keep your eyes open," Rinchen said.

Not only the weather, there is the probability of seeing wild animals, such as wolves and bears, and encountering avalanches. 

Norbu Rinchen records data at his desk. /CFP
Norbu Rinchen records data at his desk. /CFP

Norbu Rinchen records data at his desk. /CFP

Although there are risks, Rinchen takes pride in his job. Clean and drinkable water is brought to local residents's homes and people outside Damxung County also have ways, such as via online platforms, to purchase the bottled water originating in the glacier. Now, water production has become one of the pillar industries in the county.

Seeing more and more people drink the water we've tested, I feel more responsible for the protection of these water sources, Rinchen said.

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(Cover image designed by CGTN's Zhu Shangfan)

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