Local authorities have announced a five-year plan to keep an iconic river in Guilin, one of the most popular scenic sites in China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, flowing year round.
Under the plan, three new reservoirs will be constructed at the upper reaches of the Lijiang River and its tributaries at a cost of more than 2.43 billion yuan (about 347 million U.S. dollars), according to Li Zhigang, mayor of Guilin.
The three reservoirs, which will have a combined storage capacity of 498.5 million cubic meters, will serve the primary functions of flood control and water replenishment of the Lijiang River during the dry season.
They will also be used for power generation and farmland irrigation, said Mo Tingjin, chief of the Water Resources Department of Guilin City.
With a history of more than 2,000 years, Guilin is renowned for its green mountains, clear water and odd rock formations. It attracts 14 million tourists annually, many of whom take river cruises.
Areas along the upper reaches of the river often receive torrential rain, with an annual average rainfall of 2,400 millimeters. When these heavy rains fall, the river is flooded at the middle and lower reaches, endangering the safety of Guilin.
According to records, Guilin had 20 serious floods from 1936 to 2007.
"When the dry season begins, however, the river runs so low that the river bed is exposed, making it impossible to cruise" for up to half of the year, said Mo.
Gao Xiong, vice chairman of Guangxi, emphasized that the reservoir plan was necessary to maintain Guilin's status as a world-class tourism spot, among its other benefits.
"When the three reservoirs are in place, they could replenish 314 million cubic meters of water to the Lijiang River each year and could guarantee the water flows at a speed of 60 cubic meters per second during the dry season so that cruising services won't be interrupted," said Gao.
According to Li, the plan has been submitted to the National Development and Reform Commission for approval.
"I think construction will start at full scale in October," said Li.
The mayor said the state would pay 60 percent of the cost, while the local governments of Guangxi and Guilin would cover the rest.
(Xinhua News Agency May 10, 2008)