Miracle water causes a frenzy, but leaves locals thirsty
Updated: 2012-10-11 00:27
By YU RAN in Shanghai (China Daily)
A spring located in a small village in Zhejiang province has been inundated with visitors after rumors circulated that its water can cure various illnesses.
But lab test results show that the water does not have any so-called miraculous effects, only excessive bacteria.
Shicangxia village in Wenling city, Zhejiang province, was the most crowded spot in the region over the recent Golden Week holiday with people from across China lining up for hours to take the spring water.
"The local villagers have been short of water ever since all these people rushed to take the spring water, which is one of the major water sources for the locals," said a village official surnamed Chen.
Rumors of the so-called magical effects of the spring water started to spread after a local man washed his feet in the spring and his skin condition disappeared.
After telling his relatives and friends about his improved health, which he attributed to washing in the spring water, the news of his "miracle" spread throughout the region.
People from nearby villages, counties and cities arrived with trucks and cars to take the water.
"The news was reported in the local media, which brought even more people from different places to our village to drink and take away the spring water for its magic effects," said a village woman surnamed Li.
Li said the village has run out of water for daily use and has been forced to buy water at double the regular cost from neighboring villages. She said the tourists were taking the water 24 hours a day over several days.
In an attempt to disprove the rumor and stop people from visiting the site, local officials took a sample of spring water to the center for disease control and prevention in Wenling for testing.
According to the results of the test released on Tuesday, the spring water failed to even meet the standard for drinking water. The water contains excessive aerobic bacterial and coliform bacteria.
"We're trying to guide people with scientific knowledge and healthcare advice to prevent them from blindly following the trend," said Wang Huaqi, an office worker in the village.
Experts have suggested that the frequency of this type of incident, where people jump on a bandwagon following a rumor, could be prevented with more efforts from local governments to provide scientific information to the public.
"These incidents are mostly caused by people who lack the ability to distinguish the accuracy of the rumor, and society hasn't offered enough opportunities to these people to gain scientific knowledge," said Zhou Baohua, an associate professor and research fellow of the Center for Information and Communication Studies at Fudan University.
Zhou added that the "bandwagon effect" will change when the public realizes that blindly following a trend is not appropriate.