Dujiangyan Irrigation Project
Dujiangyan Irrigation Project In Chengdu Sichuan Province.
Random photo: Impressions of China
The Dujiangyan Irrigation Project in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province represents ancient China’s superb science and technology and is a milestone in the world’s water harnessing and Irrigation history. Dujiangyan, the world’s oldest diversion Project without a dam, still feeds a grid of Irrigation canals watering 670,000 hectares (1,675,000 acres) of farmland in Sichuan, turning the Province into the country’s famous land of abundance since ancient times.
In the third century, a Chinese poet wrote down the following lines praising the richness of what is Sichuan Province today.
Both rain and drought follow the will of the people, 水旱从人，
Famine is unknown, 不知饥馑，
Time has not Seen a lean year, 沃野千里，
Everyone knows it is a “land of abundance.” 世号陆海的天府。
The phrase “land of abundance” is very well known now and reminds most Chinese people of Sichuan. But not everyone knows exactly why the Province got its name. In fact, it got the name thanks to the construction of the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project more than 2,200 years ago.
Fifty-five kilometers from Chengdu, the provincial capital, Dujiangyan is the world’s oldest hydropower Project still in use. In ancient times, the Chengdu Plain, now one of China’s most populous and important agricultural regions, suffered from the incessant flooding of the Minjiang River, a tributary of the Yangtze River, in summer, while it was stricken with drought in winter. The then Sichuan Governor Li Bing decided to harness the Minjiang River and started the construction of Dujiangyan Irrigation Project around 256 BC. He divided the river by a long bank in the middle, with the inner river serving as the irrigation, and the outer river used as a floodway. Downstream, on one side of the inner river, there is a narrow opening between the two hills. The opening, named the Precious Bottleneck Channel 宝瓶口, leads water into the Irrigation network. Linking the channel are two curving channels of the outer river, both higher than the Precious Bottleneck Channel itself. This guarantees the inner river has enough water in the dry season. When floods come, any unwanted water flows back into the mainstream of the Minjiang River. The Precious Bottleneck Channel’s inflow is balanced with a weir formerly made of bamboo cages filled with stones. This is the key to the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project. The Project employs techniques displaying the simple virtues of practicality and reliability. Modern hydrographers say the Precious Bottleneck Channel’s intake has been stable since 1937. When the Project was built, it fed a grid of Irrigation canals watering 160,000 hectares (400,000 acres) of arable land in the Chengdu Plain. Now that area is 670,000 hectares (1,675,000 acres). Thanks to the project, the plain has stayed more or less free of drought for more than 2,000 years, and hence the name the “land of abundance.” Located in Dujiangyan, a city under the jurisdiction of Chengdu, the project, which works without a dam, is hailed as one of the world’s most impressive hydraulic engineering projects and is a must for tourists heading for Chengdu.
To prepare for the application, the city invested more than 200 million yuan (US $ 24 million) to improve the environment at Mount Qincheng and the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project. It demolished 280,000 square meters of buildings and relocated 61 factories, schools, hotels, and 1,097 households that were not in keeping with the natural scenery. Experts from the UNESCO have acclaimed the city’s efforts. In February 2000, Dr Les Molloy, an expert from UNESCO, said Mount Qingchng is one of the most wonderful places in Asia, and Dujiangyan is utterly beautiful. In recent years, Dujiangyan invested more than 300 million yuan (US $ 36 million) on urban construction to give its streets major facelifts and install street lamps. Urban infrastructure construction has been accelerated to ensure that the city is a sea of trees and flowers during the daytime and a sea of lights at night.
The land around the City of Chengdu is rich and beautiful, with clear blue rivers and undulating green hills. It is difficult to believe that a good part of this area owes its fertility to a man who lived more than two thousand years ago. Magistrate Li Bing of the Qin Dynasty, assisted by his son designed and supervised the building of a huge water control Project northwest of the city which channeled Minjiang River waters to irrigate croplands. The father and son were posthumously granted the title of prince by later emperors, and the Two-Prince Temple still stands today on a hill overlooking the ingeniously devised water diversion structures.
The Four Ancient Water Conservancy Projects 中国古代四大水利枢纽工程新疆
The four ancient water conservancy projects in China are Dujiangyan Irrigation Project in Chengdu, Sichuan Province 四川成都都江堰, the Ling Canal in Guilin, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region 广西桂林灵渠, the Grand Canal from Beijing to Hangzhou 京航大运河 and the karez 坎儿井, an Irrigation system of wells connected by underground channels used in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.