The water starts out as torrents leaving fresh-water Bosten Lake, but it settles tranquilly in a 28.7 square kilometers area at the end of the previously dry Tarim River.
Residents on the banks of Taitema Lake - at the lower reaches of the Tarim River - take out their canoes and play on the water that had disappeared for decades.
The volume of the lake has increased by nearly 100 times since late last year, as part of an ongoing plan to divert water from the nearby Bosten Lake reservoir to the parched middle and lower reaches of the Tarim River.
Thousands of people living in the middle reaches of the Tarim River, the longest inland river in the country, are leaving their homes under the ambitious project that aims to restore the river's ecological environment by 2005.
This campaign, costing 10.7 billion yuan (US$1.3 billion), is the most expensive environment restoration project to ever take place in Northwest China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, said Li Ping, a senior researcher with the Xinjiang Ecological and Geological Studies Institute of the Chinese Academy of Sciences.
"The results have been good so far, with the underground water level in the middle and lower reaches of the Tarim River obviously raised," she said, commenting on the fourth injection of water from Bosten Lake to the Tarim River, which was completed only late last week.
"In addition to bringing withered plants along the river back to life, the water brings seeds of more plants to the banks of the lower reaches, promising a more vibrant future," Li said.
Taking five months, the fourth injection diverted 330 million cubic meters of water into the river.
However, the series of water diversions that started in May 2000 cannot solve all problems, if other supporting measures are not adopted.
"Bosten Lake is also responsible for the water supply of other regions in the autonomous region," Ministry of Water Resources official Zhou Luyue said.
Thankfully, various grassroots administrative regions along the river have recognized the importance of the water and pledged all-out efforts, such as the mass construction of water conservation projects to reduce evaporation, limiting seepage losses and promote recycling, to make it a success.
(Xinhua News Agency November 27, 2002)