RIVER HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL FLOW IN CHINA PROJECT Background Report for the Yellow River
Australia-China Environment Development Partnership River Health and Environmental Flow in China Project Code: P0018
Contents Contents ........................................................................................................... 1 1 Overview of Yellow River Basin ............................................................... 1 1.1
Climate ......................................................................................................................................... 1
Hydrology ..................................................................................................................................... 3
Fluvial Deposit & Particle Size ..................................................................................................... 3
Demographic Features ................................................................................................................ 4
Population & Distribution .............................................................................................. 4
Economic and Social Development ............................................................................. 5
Important Ecological Assets in Yellow River Basin ...................................................................... 6 1.6.1
Species of High Protection Value ................................................................................. 6
Ecological Environment of High Protection Value ........................................................ 6
Specific Bordered Sites of High Protection Value ........................................................ 7
Dominant Species......................................................................................................... 9
2 Development & Utilization of River Water Resources......................... 10 2.1
Water Abstraction, Utilization, Pollution Discharge & Waste Water Treatment .........................10 2.1.1
History of Water Resources’ Development and Utilization ........................................10
Water Supply Volume, Water Utilization & Consumption ........................................... 11
Pollution Discharge .....................................................................................................17
Gravel Exploitation .....................................................................................................................17
Hydraulic Power .........................................................................................................................18
Tourism, Entertainment & Leisure Fishery.................................................................................18 2.4.1
Tourism& Entertainment .............................................................................................18
Leisure Fishery ...........................................................................................................20
3 Environmental Conditions & Threats.................................................... 21 3.1
Scope of Yellow River Beach Area ............................................................................................21
3.2 Changing Tendency of the Environment in the Yellow River Basin ............................................22 3.3
Main factors affecting the Environment in the Yellow River Basin ............................................24 3.3.1
Status Quo of Pollutants Dumped in the River ..........................................................24
Main Migratory Fishes ................................................................................................28
4 Health Monitoring Activities ................................................................... 30 4.1
Basic Monitoring Stations & Network.........................................................................................30
4.2 Water Quantity & Quality Monitoring Based on the Yellow River Management System ............30 4.3
Study & Monitoring of the Index System to Maintain Yellow River Health ................................31
Basic Data Collection & Monitoring for Public Welfare Project .................................................34
Satellite-Based Water Monitoring & River Forecast System .....................................................34
Monitoring on Fishery Industry along Yellow River....................................................................35
5 Water Resource Management ................................................................ 37 Water Volume Distribution ...........................................................................................................37 5.1.1 Water Distribution & Control .......................................................................................37 5.1.2 Internal Water Distribution within Province (Autonomous Region) ............................38 5.1.3 Total Water Abstraction Licensing Control & Management ........................................41 5.1.4 Water Right Transfer Management ............................................................................42 5.1.5 Yellow River Water Dispatch Management ................................................................42 5.2 Yellow River Water Environmental Protection ...........................................................................45 5.2.1 Yellow River Water Function Zoning ..........................................................................45 5.2.2 Water Quality Management in the Yellow River Basin ...............................................52 5.2.3 Ecology Restoring Programs ......................................................................................54 5.2.4 Scheduling and Management Measures....................................................................55 5.3 Yellow River Management Objective .........................................................................................56 5.3.1 Scientific Management of the Water Resources of Yellow River ...............................56 5.3.2 Legal Management of Water Resources ..................................................................57 5.3.3 Integrated Management of Yellow River Water Resources .......................................58 5.1
Overview of Yellow River Basin
Yellow River basin descends from the west to the east shaped like three giant flights of stairs in topography. Its highest reach is on Qinghai Plateau with an average elevation of over 4000 metres above sea level. Bayan Har Mountain range in its south serves as the watershed with Yangtze River and the Qilian Mountain running across its north rim demarcates Qinghai and Inner Mongolia plateaus. Originating from the east of Qilian Mountain in its north edge, Yellow River flows southward across Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture and Lintan county, along Tao River, then Min County and finally reaches Minshan Mountain. Amne Machin Mountain with a peak of 6282 metres in elevation is the highest point of the whole Yellow River basin. Topped with snow all year round, Amne Machin runs from northwest to southeast, and sharply curves the flow of the river together with Minshan Mountain, to form the stream into the shape of a letter ‘S’. Starting from the Taihang Mountains in the east, the middle reaches of the river are made of larger geomorphic units such as Hetao Plain, Ordos Plateau, Loess Plateau, and Fenwei Basin with elevations of 1000m~2000m above sea level. Different nationalities of China have lived and multiplied in this area since ancient history. It is also where drought or floods hit frequently with the strike of a great number of complicated meteorological, hydrological and sediment phenomenon. The lower reaches include areas from the east of Taihang Mountains to the seashore, mainly referred to as alluvial plains in the lower reaches of the Yellow river, and hills and knolls in southern and central Shandong. The top of the alluvial fan is in Qinhekou, whose elevation is about 100m. The plain area is divided by the Yellow River Dike into Haihe River in the north and Huaihe River in the south. When the stream passes Mount Tai, Lushan and Mengshan Mountains, it moves round knolls and wide rivers, with general elevations of 200m - 500m above sea level, and only a few over 1000m.
Situated in the Middle and Northern part of China, the Yellow River basin is of temperate continental climate, as it is humid in the southeast, semi-arid in the central area, and arid in the northwest. The coldest days occur in January and the hottest in July, with temperatures annually of about 20-29℃. Table 1.3-1 shows the detailed temperature data of representative stations of Yellow River basin.
Temperature Eigenvalue of Representative Stations in Yellow River Basin Average(℃)
Most of the Yellow River basin is located in a monsoon climatic region where rainfall is affected greatly by monsoon and to a certain degree by regional terrain features. The average precipitation of the whole basin is 476mm every year, but temporal and spatial distribution of the volume differs greatly. In general, the rainfall decreases from southeast to northwest, as the north side of Qinling Mountain may receive 700-1000mm of annual rainfall while such inland areas as Ningxia and Inner Mongolia may only have less than 150mm. Southerly and precipitation dominate in summer and autumn as a result of continental thermal lows, bringing about over 75% of the annual rainfall. In winter, almost the whole basin is in Mongolia high pressure, with some snow and rain, and occasional sandstorms. Apart from this, in the basin, the eastern and southern areas and the plains and hills have more rainstorms than the western and northern regions and the plateaus and knolls. These storms tend to occur in summer and severities differ every year. Affected by factors including rainfall, evaporation capacity and underlying services, land evaporation is a composite index for hydrothermal conditions. The average land evaporation volume of Yellow River basin is approximately 390mm, and its ratio to precipitation is 0.82. In areas from Lanzhou city to Hekou Town and the blind drainage area, the ratio is 0.97, which means only a tiny percentage of rainfall finally turns into runoff. The water surface evaporation data is roughly as follows: due to low temperature, the average annual water surface evaporation is about 800mm in Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and the mountain forest regions; the average annual water surface evaporation is 1470mm from Lanzhou to Hekou Town, since it is very dry in this area; from Hekou further down, the number is 900-1200mm. Drought index (r), the ratio of annual water surface evaporation to annual precipitation, is the index depicting the humidity of the observed area. The “r” is usually below 3.0 in lower reaches of the Yellow River, the southeast part of Loess Plateau and Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, thus belonging to subhumid zone. The northwest part of the basin sees the “r” between 3.0 and 7.0 and is defined as semi-arid zone. Some area is arid zone as its “r” is over 7.0.
The Yellow River features “less water but more sand, different sources of water and sand and uncoordinated water-sediment relations”. Natural annual runoff volume of the whole basin, estimated with the data available from 1956 to 2000, is 53.48 billion m3, which is only 2% of the national volume. The per capita data is 478 m3, only 23% of the national annual volume. Added with the water demand in the nearby region, the shortage of water resources in this area is more obvious. On the contrary, also estimated over the data available in 45 years from 1956 to 2000, the annual observed sediment transport volume in Sanmenxia Station of the Yellow River reached 1.14 billion tons, while the annual observed runoff volume is 35.79 billion m3. The average sediment concentration is 32kg/ m3, putting Yellow River on the top of the major rivers. The annual record of sediment transport volume reached 3.91 billion tons, and the sediment concentration record is 920kg/m3. Water and sediment in the river are from different sources, as water is mainly from areas above Lanzhou, north side of Qinling Mountains, Yiluohe River, and Qinhe River, while the sediment is formed after silts are received in the area between Hekou Town and Longmen, and the upper reaches of Jinghe, Beiluo and Wei rivers.
Fluvial Deposit & Particle Size
The Yellow River boasts the largest sediment discharge and heaviest fluvial deposit in the world. According to the statistics, with the observed data from year 1919 to 1960, the annual sediment discharge of Sanmenxia Station was about 1.6 billion tons. Coarse silt (d>0.05mm, the same below), is about 21% of the total sediment. Its accumulation accounts for 50% of the total accumulated sediment flowing into the lower reaches. Sediment of the Yellow River has mainly the following characteristics: First, the Yellow River has a large amount of sediment transport and high sediment content. Its mean sediment content is 35kg/m3 with the observed highest record of 911kg/m3 (1977). Both figures are higher than those of the major rivers in China. The tributaries in Hekou Town and Sanmen Gorge reaches are often hit by floods containing 1000~1700kg/m3 of sediment. Second, water and sediment in the Yellow River are from different sources with uneven distribution. The middle reach spanning Hekou Town and Sanmenxia area provides 89.1% of the total sediment, but just 28% of water. 62% of the Yellow River water is from the reach above Hekou Town, while sediment received from this area makes up just 8.6% of the whole river. Third, the sediment is gathered in just several months of the year and the situation also differs a lot each year. The rainy season from July to October, especially the rainstorms, contributes up to about 90% of the sediment runoff in a year. And the largest volume happened in Shanxian Station in 1933 with 3.91 billion tons, almost thirty times the figure of Sanmenxia Station in year 2008, when 1300 million tons sediment was discharged.
Demographic Features 1.5.1
Population & Distribution
The Yellow River flows through 66 prefectural-level cities (autonomous prefectuals, leagues) and 340 counties (county-level cities, autonomous banners) in 9 provinces (autonomous regions) including Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu, Ningxia, Inner Mongolia, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan and Shandong. Out of the 340 counties (county-level cities, autonomous banners), 267 are situated in the basin, while parts of 73 others are also in this area. Table 1.7-1 shows the demographic distribution in the basin. Table 1.5-1
2006 Demographic Distribution of the Yellow River
Rate of Urbanization (%)
Above Longyang Gorge
Blind Drainage Area
Population Density 2 (head/km )
The population of the Yellow River basin has been growing rapidly since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. It increased from 41 million in 1953 to 81.77 million in 1980, at an annual growth rate of 26.1‰. Population growth slowed down after the 1980s, at an annual rate of 12.5‰. At the end of 2006, the total population of the Yellow River basin was 112.99 million, which is 8.8% of the national pool; the population density was 142/km2, higher than the national level of 134/km2; the urban population was 44.24 million with an urbanization rate of 39.2%, lower than the national average of 44.1%. Table 1.5-2 displays the demographic changes in Yellow River basin in different periods.
Table1.5-2 Demographic Changes in Yellow River Basin
Increase Rate (‰)
Urbanization Rate (%)
Economic and Social Development
Most areas of the Yellow River basin are located in mid and western China. Due to historic and natural reasons, they are significantly behind the east in economic and social development. The implementation of national economic policies directed to the mid and west, including those boosting the development of the western region and the rise of central China, has propelled the fast economic and social development in Yellow River basin. Its GDP has risen from 91.6 billion RMB in 1980 to 1.3733 trillion in 2006 (given the price constant since 2000), at an annual growth rate of 11.0%. In particular, the annual growth rate is up to 13.1% since 2000, above the national level. The GDP per capita in the area was multiplied by over ten times, rising from 1121 RMB in 1980 to 12,154 Yuan in 2006. However, it is still considered an economically backward region as its GDP in 2006 only made up 7% of the national total and the GDP per capita was only about 80 % of the national average. The economic and social development indices of Yellow River are in Table 1.5-3.
Table1.5-3 Major Economic and Social Development Indices of Yellow River Basin (Constant Price in 2000)
GDP (100 million Yuan)
Average Annual Growth Rate (%)
GDP per capita (Yuan) 1121
Important Ecological Assets in Yellow River Basin
Species of High Protection Value
Due to factors such as water and sediment conditions, physical and chemical nature of water body, climate and geological conditions of the water basin, there is a poor presence of phytoplanktons, planktons and benthos in both variety and quantity in Yellow River. Its biomass is low with few fish species. However, many unique indigenous fishes there are of important protection value and are the key part of national protection of hydrobiontes and fish species.
Ecological Environment of High Protection Value
According to the protection policies and relevant laws and regulations for “Source Region of Yangtze, Yellow and Yalu Tsangpo Rivers” and the overall requirements for national ecological protection and basin water resources protection, the main stream and key tributaries above Yellow River Longyang Gorge are listed as reaches of limited exploitation to protect the ecology. In the reaches above Jimai and between Shaqu estuary and Maqu, hydropower development is forbidden. In other reaches, efforts were made to coordinate development and protection according to law, strengthen the research into water ecological protection and develop hydropower resources in a rational and orderly manner. Efforts are taken to strengthen the protection of source areas of key tributaries of Yellow River
with the following water function areas classified as reaches of limited exploration: the source area of Luqu of Tao River, Haiyan of Huang River main stream, Wusongtala of Datong River, Jingle of Fen River, Luonan of Luo River, Luanchuan of Yi River, Weiyuan of Wei River, and Qinyuan in Qin River. These regions shall observe Management Measures in Water Function Zones in a strict manner to ban any activities which impair the protection of water resources and water ecological functions. National nature reserves including Source Region of Yangtze, Yellow and Yalu Tsangpo Rivers in Qinghai province and Ruoergai in Sichuan province have been listed as limited Development Zones, where compulsory protection measures are adopted according to relevant laws, regulations and plans in order to curb the disturbance to natural ecology from man-made reasons.
Specific Bordered Sites of High Protection Value
Wet lands in both middle and lower reaches of the Yellow River are all of protection value as part of the overall system which can play the overall function. However, the Yellow River is a typical stream with insufficient water resources and therefore has limited water resources supporting conditions. This programme focuses on wetland resources that have direct or indirect connection with the main stream of the Yellow River, or those in the water course corridor of the river to materialize a healthy overall ecological environment of the river and optimize the biological effects at the basin level through key protections over limited targets. The major principles to define wet land protection targets in the Yellow River are: 1. those of great significance to maintain the ecological safety of either the country or the basin; 2. those of high ecological value; 3. those which have been listed as important international or national wetlands; 4. Those which have been approved to be wetland nature reserves or identified as important wetlands by people’s governments of provincial level or above (see Table 2).Wetlands located at the river source region and estuary are the ones which shall enjoy special protection the most.
Table 2 Wetland of Important Protection in Yellow River Basin
Wetland Protection Zone Three River Source Region Wetland (Yellow River section)
Above Longyang Gorge
Manzetang Wetland in Sichuan Ruoergai Wetland in Sichuan
National Planning & Zoning
Water Resource Supporting Conditions
Function Zone for Water Source Wetland Located in Conservation, Important Zone for Water supports the National Limited Source Conservation, Protection Zone water resource Development and Reserved Zone for Water Function in the region Zone Zone
Shouqu in Gansu Longyang Gorge --Lanzhou
Three Gorges Weland in Gansu Qingtong Gorge Area in Ningxia Shahu in Ningxia
Ulansuhai Nur in Inner Mongolia Nanhaizi Wetland in Baotou
Importance of Wetland
Ngoring Lake, Gyaring Lake and Ruoergai are important international wetlands and Ngoring Lake, Gyaring Lake and Gangnagemacuo Lake are important national wetlands.
Function Zone for Soil Conservation
Level of the Protection Category Protection Zone National Provincial Protection International Provincial Provincial Largely of Guiding and Planning type and Protection type. Appropriate restoration for Ulansuhai Nur (eutrophication treatment)
Very limited water resource support to Qingtong Gorge Area and wetland with Ulansuhai Nur are important thin water wetlands in China. Farm Produce Supply Function Zone resources available
Hangjin Nur Wetland in Inner Mongolia Yellow River Wetland in Shaanxi Longmen-Sanmen Gorge
Yuncheng Wetland in Shaanxi Yellow River Wetland in Henan
Farm Produce Supply Function Zone Farm Produce Supply Function Zone Function Zone for Water Source Conservation Function Zone for Water Source Conservation
Sanmen Gorge Yellow River Wetland in Zhengzhou -- Huayuankou Yellow River Wetland in Xinxiang Below Huayuankou
Below Baoji Gorge
Limited supporting Sanmen Gorge Wetland and capacity to Xinxiang Yellow River Wetland weland are important wetlands in protection from China. water resources
Liuyuankou Wetland in Kaifeng Yellow River Delta Wetland
Flood Storage Function Zone
Guiding and Planning & Protection
Provincial International Provincial
Important Zone for Biological Diversity Thin freshwater Important Wetland in China resources Protection Farm Produce Supply Ecological Function Zone
Thin water resources
Largely protection type with appropriate manual restoration
According to project results by former State Aquatic Product General Bureau, a total of 191 species and subspecies can be caught in Yellow River which fall into 15 orders, 32 families and 116 genuses, dominated by families of cyprinidae and cobitidae. There are 125 kinds of fishes and subspecies altogether in the main stream of Yellow River which belong to 13 orders, 24 families and 85 genuses dominated by rhinogbius in second to cyprinidae. In the 1980s, one fish in Yellow River has been included in the National Conservation List of Key Aquatic Wildlife and 6 fishes and 24 autochthon fishes in the River are indexed in the China Red Data Book of Endangered Animals. According to an incomplete survey in 2002~2007, 47 fish specimens in 7 orders and 11 families have been collected along the main stream of the Yellow River, among which the cyprinidae family dominated 51.1% with 24 out of 47 specimens, followed by the cobitidae family at 11 species with 23.4%. Based on their nascence, the fishes of Yellow River main stream can be classified as River Plain Complex (Ctenopharyngodon idellus, Hypophthalmichthys molitrix, Aristichthys nobilis, Hemiculter leucisculus etc.), Tertiary Early Complex (Carp, Carassiusm, Gobio rivuloides, Pseudorasbora parva, Silurus lanzhouensis etc.), Arcosanti Complex (Schizothoracinae Fish, Cobitidae Fish),North Plain Complex (Leuciscus waleckii etc.) and South Plain Complex (Hypseleotris swinhonis etc ); if based on their food habit, the fishes can be classified as Parasitic Alga Fishes(Schizopygopsis pylzovi, Platypharodon extremus etc.), Invertebrate Animal Fishes (Gymnodiptychus pachycheilus etc), Zooplankton Fishes (Gymnocypris eckloni) and Carnivorous Fishes (Silurus lanzhouensis Chen, Triplophysa siluroides, Culter erythropterus etc.). Currently, no fish in the National Conservation List of Key Aquatic Wildlife has been found in Yellow River, but three fishes and 15 autochthon fishes have been indexed in the China Red Data Book of Endangered Animals.
Development & Utilization of River Water Resources
Water Abstraction, Utilization, Pollution Discharge & Waste Water
History of Water Resources’ Development and Utilization
The development and utilization of Yellow River water resources can be traced back to 246 BC when Zhengguoqu canal was built to bring in the water of Jing River to irrigate farmlands of up to 2.1 million mu. In Qin and Han dynasties, Yellow river water was channelled to irrigate Ningxia plain, where the water with silts diverted barren lands and swamps into fertile farmlands which enjoy the name “land of milk and honey”. In Northern Song dynasty, there were practices of using the water and silts in the lower reaches of Yellow River to irrigate farmlands. The same thing happened in 1076 again when the water and silts of Yellow and Bian River were diverted to water the farmlands. And in 1920s, Mr. Li Yizhi took the lead to build 8 canals in Shaanxi and established related projects covering upper, medium and lower streams of the Yellow River, which later proved one of the earliest irrigation programs with advanced technologies in modern times. Large scale water conservancy projects have been built up after the founding of the People’s Republic of China. Some old irrigation regions were scaled up and many new programs of medium and large scale were also constructed. By 1980, the effective irrigation area irrigated by newly constructed, scaled up and improved water projects totalled 64.92 million mu, and 80 million mu if added with the out-of-basin irrigation part in the lower reaches of Yellow River. In addition to the provision of water for agriculture, some other projects for industrial water supply, urban water supply and beyond-basin distant water transfer were also constructed. There are 19,025 water storage projects in the Yellow River basin with the total water supply capacity of 5.579 billion m3, 12,852 water diversion projects with the water supply capacity of 28.351 billion m3, 22,338 water lifting projects with the capacity of 6.899 billion m3, and 603.2 thousand electrictromechanical wells with water supply capacity of 28.351 billion m3. In addition, some sewage water recycling and rainwater utilization projects were also constructed. Water Supply from the Yellow River has been increasing as with the developing economy since the 1950s. In 1950, the volume of the whole basin was about 12 billion m3, most of which was used for agricultural purposes. However, the volume at present has risen to about 50 billion m3. For the details of water supply changes in Yellow River from 1980 to 2006, see Figure 2.1-1 and Table 2.1-1.
1980~2006 Water Supply in Yellow River Basin
Water Supply in the Basin Year Surface Water
Underground Other Water Water Supply
(Unit: 100 million m )
Supply to out of Basin Area
Total Water Supply
Note: for 2006, the water supply for other purposes is also included in surface water supply
Water Supply Volume (100 million m )
300 200 100 0
Figure 2.1-1 Water Supply Changes in Yellow River During 1980~2006
Water Supply Volume, Water Utilization & Consumption
Water Supply Volume
The average precipitation in the Yellow River basin was 382mm in 2000, 14.5% less than the average of 447mm in the past years. The natural runoff was 35.4 billion m3, 33.8% less than the average of 53.48 billion m3. In 2000, the total water supply for various projects was 50.634 billion 11
m , out of which 41.877 billion m was for the basin and 8.758 billion m for the outside. The surface water was the major source of water supply for the basin with 27.222 billion m3, making up 65.0% of the total. The underground water supply totalled 14.547 billion m3, accounting for 34.7% of all the water for the basin, and water supply from other sources stood at 107 million m3, taking up 0.3%. For further details, see Table 2.2-1.
Water Supply Volume in Yellow River Basin in 2000 (Unit: 100 million m3)
Surface Water Supply Volume Provinces (Autonomous Regions)
Underground Water Supply Volume
Superficial Layer Fresh Water
Deep Confined Water
Supply from Total Water Other Supply Sources
Yellow River Basin
The average precipitation in the Yellow River basin was 422mm in 2004, 5.6% less than the past average. The natural runoff was 42.3 billion m3, 21% less than the past average. In 2004, the total water supply for various projects was 45.957 billion m3, out of which 39.551 billion m3 was for the basin and 6.406 billion m3 for the outside. The surface water was the major source of water supply for the basin with 25.047 billion m3, making up 63.4% of the total. The underground 3
water supply totalled 14.372 billion m , accounting for 36.3% of all the water for the basin, and water supply from other sources stood at 132 million m3, taking up 0.3%. For further details, see Table 2.2-1.
Water Supply Volume in Yellow River Basin in 2004 (Unit: 100 million m )
Surface Water Supply Volume Provinces (Autonomous Regions)
Underground Water Supply Volume Supply from Total Water Other Sources Supply
Superficial Layer Fresh Water
Deep Confined Water
Yellow River Basin
The total water supply for various projects registered a number of 51.208 billion m3 in 2006, out of which 42.274 billion m3 was for the use in the basin and 8.935 billion m3 for the outside. 28.556 billion m3 surface water was supplied to the basin, making up 67.5% of the total. Underground water supply totaled 14.372 billion m3, accounting for 36.3% of all those supplied to the basin. For further details, see Table 2.2-3. Table 2.2-3
Water Supply Volume in Yellow River Basin in 2006
(Unit: 100 million m3)
Provinces (Autonomous Regions)
Yellow River Basin
The total water consumption in various departments in the Yellow River basin topped 41.877 billion m3 in 2000, among which agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, livestock and fishery industries were the biggest utilizer, taking 33.000 billion m3 or 78.8% of the total. Water consumed in industry, construction and tertiary industries totalled 6.446 billion m3, taking up 15.39% of the total. Domestic water consumption (including that used for urban and rural life) was 2.266 billion m3, or 5.41% of the total. Water for urban ecological use was 164 million m3, making up 0.4% of the whole. For details, see Table 2.2-4. The total water consumption in various departments in the Yellow River basin topped 39.551 billion m3 in 2004, among which agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, livestock and fishery industries were the biggest utilizer taking 29.471 billion m3 or 74.5% of the total. Water consumed in industry, construction and tertiary industries totalled 7.154 billion m3, taking up 18.1% of the total. Domestic water consumption (including that used for urban and rural life) was 2.778 billion m3, or 7.0% of the total. Water for urban ecological use was 147 million m3, making up 0.4% of the whole. For details, see Table 2.2-4. The total water consumption in various departments in the Yellow River basin topped 42.274 billion m3 in 2006, among which agriculture, forestry, animal husbandry, livestock and fishery industries were the biggest utilizer taking 29.765 billion m3 or 70.4% of the total. Water consumed in industry, construction and tertiary industries totalled 8.979 billion m3, taking up 21.2% of the total. Domestic water consumption (including that used for urban and rural life) was 3.028 billion m3, or 7.2% of the total. Water for urban ecological use was 502 million m3, making up 1.2% of the whole. For details, see Table 2.2-4.
Table 2.2-4 Total Water Utilization in Yellow River Basin in 2000 (Unit: 100 million m )
Provinces (Autonomous Regions)
Urban Life Rural Life Industrial Use
Construction & Tertiary Industries
Forestry, Animal Husbandry & Live Stock Urban Ecology Fishery
Yellow River Basin
Table 2.2-5 Total Water Utilization in Yellow River Basin in 2004 (Unit: 100 million m3)
Provinces (Autonomous Regions)
Urban Life Rural Life Industrial Use
Construction & Tertiary Industries
Forestry, Animal Husbandry & Live Stock Urban Ecology Fishery
ellow River Basin
Table 2.2-6 Total Water Utilization in Yellow River Basin in 2006 (Unit: 100 million m )
Provinces (Autonomous Regions)
Urban Life Rural Life Industrial Use
Construction & Tertiary Industries
Forestry, Animal Husbandry & Live Stock Urban Ecology Fishery
Yellow River Basin
In 2000, the water consumption of the Yellow River basin totalled 39.803 billion m3, among which 29.681 billion m3 was surface water consumption (20.923 billion m3 of surface water was consumed in the basin and 8.758 billion m3 was supplied for outside the basin) and underground 3
water consumption was 10.122 billion m . In 2004, the water consumption of the Yellow River basin totalled 35.248 billion m3, among which 25.330 billion m3 was surface water consumption (19.250 billion m3 of surface water was consumed in the basin and 6.080 billion m3 was supplied for outside the basin) and underground 3
water consumption was 9.918 billion m . In the basin, surface water consumption made up 66% and underground water 34%. After analyzing level II zones in the basin, it was found that the areas between Lanzhou and Hekou Town consumed most of the water of 10.500 billion m3, followed by areas between Longmen and Sanmen gorges which consumed 7.370 billion m3 water. Among the provinces (autonomous regions), Inner Mongolia was the top consumer taking 7.366 billion m3. Details can be found in Table 2.2-7. In 2006, the water consumption of the Yellow River basin totalled 40.173 billion m3, among which 30.474 billion m3 was surface water consumption (21.539 billion m3 of surface water was consumed in the basin and 8.935 billion m3 was supplied for outside the basin) and underground water consumption was 9.699 billion m3. In the basin, surface water consumption made up 69% of the total and underground water consumption 31%. Details can be found in Table 2.2-7. Table 2.2-7
Water Consumption in the Yellow River Basin
(Unit: 100 million m3)
2000 Provinces Surface Water (Autonomous UnderOut of In the Regions) the Total ground Basin Basin Qinghai 12.65 12.65 0.92
2004 Total 13.57
Surface Water UnderOut of Total In the the Total ground Basin Basin 12.33 12.33 1.38 13.71
Surface Water Out of In the the Total Basin Basin 13.57 13.57
nner Mongolia 62.86
Shandong 4.42 4.42 11.26 Yellow River 209.23 87.58 296.81 101.22 Basin
According to the 2004 Annual Report on China’s Environment, the waste water discharged from the Yellow River basin totalled 3.95 billion tons in 2004, 1.38 billion tons more than that of 2000; its annual emission of COD, a major pollutant, made up 13.3% of the total national emissions. 25 waste water treatment plants have been constructed in 9 provinces in the basin, with the daily handling capacity of 2.17 million tons. However, their actual daily capacity is only 0.868 million tons. The urban domestic waste water treatment rate in the basin is only 13%, 13 percentage points lower than national average.
Three projects to dig the river to strengthen dikes were carried out at the estuary of Yellow River during 1997~1998, 2001~2002 and in 2004. Practice and research indicated that the projects could reduce the siltation of the river course, reinforce the dikes on the bank and improve the discharge capability of the river course. During the planning period, the priority in digging the downstream was the section below Taochengpu, consolidating dikes with silts, dredging and unblocking the transition sections linking with neighbouring regulation works, excavating the entrance bar at the estuary and dredging the end in order to help empty the silt into deep sea. As for the sections above Taochengpu, efforts were made on dredging along with the river course regulating project in order to prevent the birth of so-called horizontal or slanting river or abnormal river bends. In some areas along the lower reaches of the Yellow River, certain soil in the backside of the dyke is rough and saline and alkali. The infrastructures for irrigation and drainage are quite weak. Many lands are not arable. Pipe permeation in bank foundation occurs easily when floods strike. Since 1974, flood diversion and colmation for about 10 spots downstream of the Yellow River 17
were carried out with satisfying results. During the planning period, the use of rich silt resources of the Yellow River to transform low-lying saline and alkali land at the dike backside enhanced the capacity against permeation when floods hit and helped to increase the acreage of arable land which greatly contributed to elevating people living near the River out of poverty. According to statistics, there are 496 pieces of saline and alkali and low-lying lands at the backside of the downstream of the Yellow River, which are mostly located no farther than 500m away from the levee covering a total area of 130 million m2. The total amount of earth and silt filled there reached approximately 190 million m3. Due to the expansion of construction markets in China and the decrease of land resources, sediments and silt of Yellow River can be widely used to make bricks, artificial stone and the materials for the pitching of slope. Among these applications, brick making takes a relatively large amount of sediments, with an annual estimated consumption of 6 million m3, which can be stabilized at around 4 million m3 if the long term construction market stays stable.
The Yellow River is rich in hydraulic power resources with theoretical water power reserves of up to 40.51 million kw and possible installed capacity 33.44 million kw (bigger than hydropower station of 10000 kw) in its main stream and tributaries. In the upper reaches of the Yellow River, particularly from Longyang Gorge to Qingtong Gorge, gorges and rivers intertwine with big riverbeds, endowing the River with abundant hydraulic power. Along this length, the average fall planned to be utilized goes over 1200m with more than 10 million kw of installed capacity, almost half of the whole stream. The average annual hydroelectric output is almost 60 billion kwh.
Tourism, Entertainment & Leisure Fishery
The Yellow River is the cradle of Chinese civilization as its basin is the birthplace of Chinese nationalities. Originating from the north side of the Bayan Har Mountains in Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture of Yushu, Qinghai Province, it flows through nine provinces (autonomous regions) of China and empties into the Bohai Sea from Kenli County, Shandong Province. At the length of 5,464km, the river was the cradle of Chinese nationalities in ancient times and also the guarantee for national prosperity nowadays thanks to its strong economic strength, abundant natural resources, long history and rich culture. The Yellow River boasts unique and profuse tourism resources thanks to rich civilization and long history, magnificent scenery, exotic natural landscape and cultural heritages. Among the 62 historic cities approved by the State Council, 16 are in the provinces along the Yellow River and 13 are located in the basin. Despite its location in arid and semi-arid zones, the Yellow River 18
basin also contains mountains, deserts, water and grass lands. Along with its lakes and reservoirs, the Yellow River area is wonderful for travelling, featuring northern majestic and southern beautiful and unique sceneries as follows: (1) There are many famous mountains and gorges, the most famous being the Riyue, JishiHelan, Liupan, Taihang, Lvliang Mountains, Mount Hua, Mount Song, Mount Tai, Longyang, Jishi, Liujia, Yanguo, Bapan, Sangyuan, Hongshan, Heishan, Qingtong and Sanmen gorges. (2)The Yellow River also boasts beautiful sceneries of rivers, lakes and waterfalls. Famous tributaries are Huangshui, Qingshui, Qin, Wuding, Fenhe, Weihe, Luohe and Jinghe rivers. Well known lakes include Zhaling, Eling, Wuliangsu and Dongping lakes. The Hukou Waterfall in the Jinxia Canyon, the largest waterfall on the Yellow River and the second largest in China, is well known in the world for its magnificent and magic scenery. (3) Given deserts and prairie resources, Travellers can also visit the Tengger and Maowusu Deserts, Heyuan Desert in Qinghai as well as Ordos Prairie in Inner Mongolia, and so on. (4) Fourth, biological landscape, including rare animals and uncommon plants in Heyuanof Qinghai Province, Jishi Mountainsin Gansu Province, Helan Mountain Ranges in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Lvliang Mountains in Shanxi Province. According to incomplete statistics, 22 natural reserves had been established in the Yellow River basins since 1986. The Loess Plateau alone breeds dozens of rare and precious fauna included in the national protection list. (5) Colourful ethnic customs in this area are worth visiting and enjoying, with such interesting activities as Islamic flavour “Home of Hui Nationality” in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region, Nadaam Festival with songs and dances of Mogol Nationality on Odos Prairie in summer, Hua’er folk song duets and contests in early June in Lianhua Mountain, Kangle County, Gansu Province, Xintianyou in Shaanxi, and Ansai waist drum. (6) The Yellow River boasts many cultural relics, such as the world renowned Lantian Man relic, Dadiwan ancient human cultural relic and Banpo remnants. Moreover, the Mausoleums of the Yellow Emperor, who is considered in Chinese mythology to be the ancestor of all Han Chinese, the Chinese thinker and social philosopher Confucius and First Qin Emperor, are listed the top 3 of the category. Terracotta Warriors in the Mausoleum of First Qin Emperor in Lishan have been listed among the World’s Top Ten Ancient Cultural Heritages by UNESCO. Other relics include Fu Xi Temple in Tianshui, Shennong Temple in Baoji, the Stele Forest in Xi’an, Jin Temple in Taiyuan, temporary palace for Li Zicheng in Mizhi, Songyang Academy in Dengfeng, the Zhaojun Tomb relics in Daqing Mountains, Ancient Song Tomb relics in Gongyi, and Mausoleum of Genghis Khan, founder, ruler and emperor of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death. Besides, there are also many revolutionary relics and religious attractions.
Fishing in the Yellow River basin has been passed down over centuries as a simple and elegant leisure activity in China and wins increasing popularity among the people with lasting charm. Fishing activities have long been popular in inland freshwater areas. Originated from our ancestors’ hunter gatherer lifestyle in ancient times, fishing has gradually evolved from its role of capturing food into an enjoyable, healthy and energetic activity also involving wisdom and elegance. With its abundant fishery resources, numerous lakes and rivers spread over a large region, the Yellow River basin should have been a natural place for fishing with rich fish stocks. However, the main stream of the Yellow River is not very suitable for fishing due to high sediment concentration and water pollution, and the abundant fishery resources in the basin mainly appear around the lake and river delta along the stream. Therefore, leisure fishery in the Yellow River basin still has much room to improve, before it can match the development pace of other industries.
Environmental Conditions & Threats
Scope of Yellow River Beach Area
The downstream river course of the Yellow River stretches 878km, starting from Baihe, Mengjin County of Henan province until the estuary into sea in Kenli County, Shandong province. Given silt and sediment, the riverbed is usually 4~6m, and sometimes above 10m, higher than the bank level, serving as a natural watershed between the Huaihe River and the Haihe River. Based on the characteristics of the beach area, the downstream part of the Yellow River can be divided into five sections separated by Huayuankou, Gaocun, Aishan and Yuwa respectively. The section linking Baihe and Huayuankou is 109km long in riverbed and 4.1~10km wide. The bottom land in this section is largely concentrated in Mengzhou County, Wen County and Wuzhi County, with a wide coverage which is known as “Wenmeng Bottom Land”. The section between Huayuankou and Gaocun is 190km long in riverbed with a general width of 5~20km (24km at maximum). Wide and shallow, the river course in this part is typically classified as a wandering waterway. Its vast beach land mostly spreads around Yuanyang and Fengqiu on the left bank, and Zhengzhou and Kaifeng on the right. The section between Gaocun and Aishan is 193.6km long and 1.4~8km wide, with the broad lower beach land in Puyang on the left bank and Heze on the right bank, demonstrating a remarkable effect of flood detention and sand sediment. The section between Aishan and Yuwa is 281.9km long and 0.49~5.0km wide, with the big beach land crossing Changqing County and Pingyin County and medium and small-sized beach land spreading in other areas. The last section links Yuwa and the estuary. The Yellow River Delta is located in Dongying City, between Laizhou Bay in the north of Shandong and Bohai Bay. Classified as a weak tidal accumulation estuary, this area came into being after years of silt extension, shift and accumulation since 1855 when the Yellow River burst in Tongwaxiang and changed its flowing direction by combining with Daqing River to join the sea at the current estuary. The scope covers an area between 118°10' E 37°15' N and 119°15' E 38°10' N. The Delta usually refers to the fan-shape zone starting from Ninghai and ending in Taoer estuary in the north and Zhimai estuary in the south, covering an area of over 6,000 km2, with the coastline winding about 350km long. Figure 1-1 shows the specific location of the Delta.
The Geographic Location of the Yellow River Delta
3.2 Changing Tendency of the Environment in the Yellow River Basin The Yellow River boasts good water quality in nature. Before 1979, except for a very few sections in Lanzhou and Baotou during a very short period of time, the water quality of the mainstream of the Yellow River could meet or surpass the 3rd level water quality standard. However, over the past three decades, along with the substantial reduction of the river runoff as well as the increase of the pollutant substance dumped in the river along with the impact from economic development in the basin, the pollution problem has been getting increasingly serious. The pollution of the Yellow River can be mainly attributed to point source pollution, namely the industrial and domestic waste dumped by provinces along the river, and the agricultural surface source pollution from the irrigation area in Ningmeng and the soil erosion area in the Loess Plateau. Among them, about 66% comes from point source pollution (only in COD terms). Point source pollution usually affects the Yellow River by two means: first, the industrial and domestic waste directly dumped in the mainstream of the Yellow River through the waste discharging outlets in the river; and second, the sewage carried by tributaries which in turn bring it to the main stream. According to a survey in 2005, the treatment of both industrial and domestic waste along the Yellow River has been quite extensive, with only 60% of the sewage dumped through the discharging outlets into Yellow River meeting the standard. The non compliant waste discharge 22
has become a severe problem and is the major reason causing the pollution of Yellow River. The abuse of fertilizer and pesticides has also resulted in water quality deterioration. This issue is particularly serious in areas experiencing rapid economic growth. The proportion of waste transported by Yellow River tributaries is much higher than that dumped through the discharging outlets (see Figure 2-1). Statistics show that the tributaries transport about 800,000 tons COD and about 42,600 tons of ammonia nitrogen sewage to the river per year on average, about 70.4% and 67.7% of the total dumped in the river respectively.
Figure 2-1 The Major Pollutants Dumped through the Discharging Outlets and Transported by Tributaries (Unit: t) The major pollutants in the Yellow River include COD, ammonia nitrogen, BOD, volatile phenols and other organic sewage, with COD and ammonia nitrogen being the most prominent. Figure 2-2 and 2-3 show the changes of these two types pollutants dumped along the river in different periods in the year.
Changes of the COD Concentration along the River during Different Water Periods
Figure 2-3 Changes of the Ammonia Nitrogen Concentration along the River during Different Water Periods The surface source pollution of the Yellow River also deserves attention. Surveys show that there were 7.675 million tons of COD and 234,000 tons of ammonia nitrogen sewage generated by surface sources in 2005, with 689,000 tons of COD and 16,000 tons of ammonia nitrogen sewage dumped in the river, accounting for 40% and 14% of the total COD and ammonia nitrogen sewage dumped in the river respectively in that year. 66% of the surface source generated COD came from soil erosion and poultry husbandry, and most ammonia nitrogen sewage came from farmland runoff, poultry husbandry and soil erosion.
Main factors affecting the Environment in the Yellow River Basin
Status Quo of Pollutants Dumped in the River
“The industrial structure in the areas along the river is unreasonable, with a large proportion of high water-consuming and high polluting businesses, mainly focusing on paper making, textile, mechanics and power generation industries featuring a low content of high and new technology. These industries are inefficient in water utilization and usually generate a huge amount of pollutants. The improper industrial structure has led to the serious pollution problems along the river.” Statistics show that in 2008, the total sewage discharged in the Yellow River amounted to 4.006 billion tons, with 1.01 billion tons from households, 2.715 billion tons from secondary industry and 280 million tons from tertiary industry, accounting for 25.2%, 67.8% and 7.0% of the total respectively. Figure 3-1 shows the specific sewage composition in 2008.
Bar Chart of the Sewage Dumped in the Yellow River in 2008
1. Lateral connectivity After passing Taohuayu in Zhengzhou the Yellow River starts its downstream journey, which wanders over 760 km eastward to the estuary in Kenli county, Shandong province. Constrained by the high banks on both sides, the riverbed becomes gradually higher than upstream areas due to continuous mud and sand sediment, making this part of the Yellow River the world acclaimed “suspending river”. Between the two banks are 5~10 km (20+km at maximum) wide beach areas, which consist of a river channel shifting from left to right and from wide to narrow due to the quantity of water flow and the vast beach land. In Henan and Shandong, the two downstream provinces, given the high population density along the river and limited land, the beach land is rather fertile and therefore has attracted millions of people working and living there from one generation to another. The total population of the beach area at the downstream part of the Yellow River has now surpassed 1.8 million. To ensure the comfort of people living in this area, the provincial governments of Henan and Shanxi called for people to build production dykes following the flood in 1958, with the principle of “controlling small instead of big floods”. In the early 1970s, the threats posed by these production dykes started to emerge and the State Council issued orders to remove the production dykes. However, the policy implementation turned out to be extremely difficult, with the production dykes destroyed or repaired from time to time. The flood in 2003 led to a climax of repairing these production dykes, and now most banks have been restored in full. In the 1950s, projects aimed to control and guide river flows were built in the lower section of Taochengpu. With the joint effect of these controlling and guiding projects as well as the production dykes, the river flows in these areas had been basically under control by 1958. 25
Following that, similar projects started to be built on the upper section. By 1975, the river flows between Gaocun and Taochengpu were also preliminarily under control. Compared with the lower section of Gaocun, projects on the upper part which aimed to control and guide wandering reaches were relatively out of date. As a result, the river flows failed to be controlled until the early 1990s. In the 1990s, the central government increased investment for controlling the Yellow River, and efforts in building controlling and guiding projects on wandering reaches significantly intensified. Currently, in the downstream part of the Yellow River, the mainstream shifting scope has been gradually narrowed, with most sections between the controlling and guiding projects or production dykes on both banks of the river. Between 1960 and 1964, the average mainstream shifting scope of the main stream was 3.5~4.2km, which narrowed to 3.36km between 1964 and 1972. Between 1981 and 1992, the average mainstream shifting scope of the 22 sections on the upper part of Dongbatou was 2.46km. Between 1995 and 2004, the average mainstream shifting scope of all sections had been controlled to less than 2km, with some even less than 1km. 2. Longitudinal connectivity In the past 50 years, in order to drive the economic development and improve the living standard of the people, provinces and regions along the Yellow River have attached great importance to the development of hydraulic power generation. By 1997, there were 3183 big, medium-size and small reservoirs alongside the mainstream and tributaries of the Yellow River, with the total capacity reaching 5.83×1010m3 . Among them, the total capacity of Longyangxia, Liujiaxia and Sanmenxia reservoirs was 4×1010m3, and water reserved by these three reservoirs is equal to about 70% of the average runoff of the river. Therefore, these three reservoirs have a significant impact on the river runoff as well as mud and sand sediment. The development of reservoirs may bring about the following consequences: (1) The number of days with large and medium size water flow has decreased and the river runoff has been increasingly averaged. By 1997, the total capacity of the reservoirs built on the mainstream and tributaries of the Yellow River have reached 5.83×1010m3, making it one of the most efficient rivers in the utilization of water resources in China. The ratio between the used water resources and the natural river runoff is as high as 82%. The river runoff has been controlled by a number of reservoirs on the main stream and tributaries. With the joint use of Longyangxia and Liujiaxia reservoirs on the upstream areas and the terraced development of Lijiaxia, Yanguoxia, Bapanxia, Daxia, Qingtongxia and Sanshenggong reservoirs, the river runoff could be averaged for multiple years. The river runoff on the upstream areas is now under 100% control; by using Wanjiazhai, Tianqiao, Sanmenxia and Xiaolangdi reservoirs in the midstream areas and Luhun and Guxian reservoirs on tributaries as well as dykes on the downstream areas, flooding in the midstream and downstream areas has been fundamentally controlled. Putting together the approximately 1,000 small and medium-sized reservoirs on all tributaries and the 5.00×1010m3 potential capacity to be expanded on major tributaries, human-made reservoirs
may dramatically influence the runoff of the whole river. Because of the large-scale and comprehensive efforts in controlling and developing the river, particularly the joint use of Liujiaxia (put in use for water reserve in 1968) and Longyangxia (put in use for water reserve in 1986), the river runoff has changed significantly, with reduced frequency of the occurrence of large and medium-sized water flows and increased number of days for small water flows. (2) The silt of the riverbed below the reservoirs has been increased. The operations of Sanmenxia reservoir during different periods of time after it was built have exerted important impacts on the sediment in the downstream riverbed. Between July 1960 and October 1964, the major functions of the reservoir included water conservancy, flood discharging and sand flushing, enabling the flowing of clear river water to downstream areas. As a result, the river section near the reservoir was fiercely flushed, with the intensity decreasing gradually along the river. However, since the section near the estuary failed to be flushed, the riverbed of Lijin section was heightened by 0.40m. In 1964, there was a serious sediment problem within Sanmenxia reservoir, with the volume of mud and sand sediment reaching 5.40×1010m3, making the redesign of the reservoir operation an urgent task. In 1973, after two rounds of the reservoir rebuilding, its operation changed to focus on reserving clear water and discharging sediment. Such operation limited the reservoir’s ability to discharge floods and resulted in sediment due to insufficient flood discharging ability. The muddy flows out of the reservoir were described as “big water with small (amount of) sands, and small water with large (amount of) sands”. As a consequence, the downstream riverbed suffered severe sediment problems, and the phenomenon of suspending river on the ground deteriorated. Similar problems were also found in upstream river sections that cross Inner Mongolia. Before the water conservancy projects on the upstream areas were put in use, there was slight sediment in this section. However, after Liujiaxia and Longyangxia reservoirs were put into operation on the upstream areas, the shape of the downstream riverbed had changed dramatically, featuring increasing sediment in the riverbed, decreasing gaps between the riverbed and the beach land, and intensified river shifting. Possibilities are great for the second suspending river on the ground to take shape. Building reservoirs on the upstream areas may have a key impact on the reduction of water flows and the changes of sand amount on the downstream areas. Before 1986, based on actual measure, the water and sand reduction was between 30% and 50%, relatively stable in comparison to the reduction of natural rainfalls. The reduction reached 60%~70% after 1986. In terms of flood periods due to the water conservancy in Liujiaxia and Longyangxia, the total water flows were reduced by 21.9% on average. 3. Vertical connectivity Based on the distribution characteristics of the ground water and underground water system, as well as the analysis of the geographical structure of the region, stratum, physiognomy and the drainage conditions between the underground water system and the runoff of the Yellow River, Linxueyu classified the underground system in the Yellow River into 9 first level systems and 32
second level systems. The research showed: (1) The phreatic water in Yinchuan and Baotou plains originates from modern water. Those in plains in front of mountains are supplied by local rainfalls, and those in sediment and lacustrine plains are supplied by the seepage of irrigation water taken from the Yellow River. The confined water is ancient underground water accumulated throughout the geographical history, mainly supplied by lateral recharge in piedmont regions and complemented by modern phreatic water. (2) In the midstream valley crossing Shanxi and Shaanxi, the karst water is mainly supplied by the rainfall sourced seepage on the west part of Lvliang Mountain, with the recharge elevation between 1,600m and 1,800m. In areas on both sides of the valley (such as Wanjiazhai), the recharge direction is from the river to the underground system, which is reversed in areas between Wanjiazhai and Wupu. The underground water in Guanzhong basin is mainly supplied by rainfall. There are also interconnections between river water and phreatic water. The links between karst water and the 4th age phreatic are rather weak, with karst water mainly supplied by rainfalls in naked mountain areas. During high water periods, phreatic water may provide supply to shallow confined water, but such interconnections are relatively weak during low water period. (3) In the regions near the downstream river (Henan section), the river provides lateral water supply to the underground water system in the alluvial plain. In sections between Xinxiang and Zhongmou and between Shangqiu and Kaifeng, the scope of such water supply is about 35km wide. In lower areas of the alluvial plain and urban areas where over-extraction has led to a cone zone with lowered underground water lever, given the increased slope of the cone zone, such areas may attract and accumulate a considerable amount of underground water, thus forming a few local runoff systems. In areas in front of mountains, the underground water is controlled by topography and flows towards the alluvial plain. There are relative interconnections between phreatic water and shallow confined water, but the links between phreatic water and deep confined water are quite weak. Generally speaking, the recharge direction and intensity between the river and the underground water system varies in different river sections. The intense supply from the underground water system to the river mainly happens in the source area and midstream valley crossing Shanxi and Shaanxi provinces. The intense supply from the river to the underground water system mainly happens in the downstream suspending section. The weak interchange mainly happens in the section between Lanzhou and Baotou.
Main Migratory Fishes
There are few migratory fishes in the upstream and midstream of Yellow River. Triplophysa scleroptera usually swim a short distance back to the upstream river in early March every year to look for appropriate areas near the bank, with 0.5~1.5m deep water, to lay eggs on the sand. 28
Squaliobarbus curriculus, a kind of cyprinid, also swim a short distance of 30~50m from the downstream to upstream Jingyuan section in April and May to lay eggs. These two types of fish can be called semi-migratory fish in upstream Yellow River. However, blocked by Longyangxia, Qinglongxia and other reservoirs, now these fishes cannot migrate to the proper breeding places, which affects the reproduction rate and spawning rate, causing a severe reduction in numbers of these species. Coreius septentrionalis is a type of fish migrating for reproduction. At the end of each autumn when the water temperature decreases, Coreius septentrionalis swim to the deep water areas downstream to live through the winter. When the water temperature increases during the spring, they swim back upstream to look for breeding places for the propagation season in May. The proper place for Coreius septentrionalis to lay eggs is on the beach land where flowing water passes through gravels. Coreius septentrionalis in Ningxia section usually swim upstream to Nanchangtan and enters Heishanxia. While there are rushing flows that may stimulate spawning, they lay eggs on gravels. Fish fries hatch from the eggs, then flow along the river to Weining plain and grow in the vast water there. Coreius septentrionalis in Gansu section usually swim upstream to Qinglongxia to lay eggs, while Coreius septentrionalis in Henan section usually swim upstream to Sanmenxia to lay eggs. However, some reservoirs block their migration roads and cause sharp reduction in numbers of these fishes. Anadromous migration is quite common in sections after Huayuankou, as represented by fish species like coilia ectenes, Anguilla japonica, mullet and barracuda. The number of coilia ectenes has decreased dramatically. Coilia ectenes used to be the major migratory fish in the estuary of the Yellow River. They enter Bohai bay in early spring every year, reach the estuary before Ching Ming Festival and stay there for a short period, taking food locally. They then swim upstream from the estuary before or after Ching Ming Festival, and most enter Dongping Lake. While swimming upstream, coilia ectenes do not take any food and start doing so after reaching Dongping Lake. They lay eggs by early June (around the Sowing Festival in China), after which, some parent fish swim downstream back to the sea, and others take food for a while in the lake before going back to the sea. They grow and spend winter in Bohai bay. Before the 1970s, there was a rich number of coilia ectenes, with the annual output in the estuary of the Yellow River surpassing 500,000 kg. However, after that, particularly entering into the 1990s, the break of river currents on the Yellow River severely damaged the eco-environment, leading to a sharp output decrease. Since 1999 when the united regulation of the Yellow River was implemented, coilia ectenes, as one of the rare fish species, started to emerge again.
Health Monitoring Activities
Basic Monitoring Stations & Network
There are 348 basic hydrological stations, 76 gauging stations, 1950 rainfall monitoring stations, 159 water surface evaporation stations and 2,128 underground water stations in the Yellow River Basin, which have played an important role in supporting the development of local economy and the regulation and development of the Yellow River. The major functions of hydrological stations and network include: (1) collecting the basic local hydrological information according to the specified accuracy and technical standards; (2) monitoring the dynamic situation of rainfall, water flow, mud and sand, water quality and underground water so as to provide real-time information for flood prevention and reservoir operation; (3) collecting the information related to the spatial distribution of specific hydrological factors as well as the rules of such distribution; (4) adding and expanding the local hydrological information systems; (5) providing basic data of all sites within the network for public use, such as environment protection, the survey, evaluation, development and utilization of water resources, the planning, design and construction of water conservancy projects, scientific research, etc, by means of spatial Interpolation or information transfer; and (6) enhancing the comprehensive social and economic effects of the hydrological stations and network by relying on the different structures of individual stations and network.
4.2 Water Quantity & Quality Monitoring Based on the Yellow River Management System (1) Water and rainfall monitoring According to the requirements for united management of both mainstream and tributaries, 77 hydrological stations on the mainstream and tributaries are selected as key information collecting sites. Based on the equipment conditions as well as the capacity in measuring flow hydraulic data during the management period, 18 stations with urgent problems in low water measurement have been better equipped with equipment enabling water level measurement and flow quantity measurement for low water. Operation information of 23 key stations has been provided for united management and control. Rainfall information in the non-flood season is added for 98 rainfall monitoring stations in 4 sections, namely the section above Lanzhou, Helong section, Jingluowei section and Sanhuajian section. (2) Water quality monitoring
According to the requirements for water quality monitoring, the Water Environment Monitoring Center of the Yellow River has been equipped with a mobile water quality laboratory; 6 automatic water quality monitoring stations have been established in major sections and provincial sections for water quantity control on the mainstream of the Yellow River; and the Water Resource Protection Bureau of the Yellow River was also equipped with a mobile pollutant monitoring vehicle. (3) Water diversion and subsiding information monitoring Visual and control systems have been established to monitor the diversion water information in the 32 diversion ports left in upstream areas (including 18 integral ones) and 68 diversion ports in upstream and midstream areas. There are also systems monitoring the return water from the 16 water return ports in Ningmeng irrigation area. (4) Water demand information collection A water demand information system has been developed, which provides satellite telemetry data, ground telemetry data, soil tilth data in irrigation areas, ecological water demand information in the wetland in the estuary, industrial and domestic water demand data. A related monitoring and analysis platform has also been developed for water demand data collection.
Study & Monitoring of the Index System to Maintain Yellow River
Health Based on the indicator system studies that aim to maintain the health of the Yellow River and supported by projects of Key National Science and Technology projects during 11th five-year plan, research fellows from the Yellow River Conservancy Commission have conducted surveys and research on the healthy indicators of different mainstream sections of the river. Through on-site surveys and research in the key sections from the mainstream to the estuary, and by way of collecting first-hand data, the commission has acquired a number of ecological data of key types of fish and birds. The research was conducted in three ecological areas, namely the section between Qingtongxia and Huayunakou, the section between Dongping Lake and the estuary, and offshore waters. Based on the living reality of fish that live in different sections of the river, the following research results can be concluded: (1) Qingtongxia-- Huayuankou Section In this section, there are 4 parts deserving attention, including 3 national fish resources conservation reserves, namely Qingshi part with rhinogobio nasutus, Erdos part with Yellow River catfish, and Zhengzhou part with Yellow River carp, and 1 section between Yumenkou and Tongguan, which has been an important breeding and growing area of Yellow River carp a long time. 31
The representative fish species in Ningmeng section (including rhinogobio nasutus protection zone in Qingshi part and Yellow River catfish protection zone in Erdos part) include Yellow River carp, Lanzhou catfish, Yellow River leuciscus, squaliobarbus curriculus, rhinogobio nasutus, etc., which are all local protected fish species. These fish usually choose river bay areas with deep and vast water as well as slow flow to lay eggs, look for food and spend winters. Surveys show that in this section, fish usually lay eggs in May or June, particularly May. Most fish in this section favour static water. During the spawning period, the water surface needs to be high enough to submerge the float grass on banks. During the growing period, the water needs to be over 1.5m deep and also be able to submerge the float grass on banks. During the winter, the water below the ice surface should be over 1m deep. Taking Yellow River carp for example, as static water fish, their favourite habitats are soft and slow flowing water areas with rich float grass. They lay viscid eggs and require over 1-2m deep and over 50m wide water fields during their growing period. The water flow rate should be 0.1-0.6m/s during their spawning period. The representative fish species in the section below Yumenkou include Yellow River carp, Lanzhou catfish, squaliobarbus curriculus and the four most commonly cooked fish in China. Among them, the first three are local protected fish species. The spawning period of fish in this section is in April or May, particularly middle and late April and early May. They usually choose shallow beaches with rich float grass or the conjunction areas of mainstream and tributaries to lay eggs. The demand for water depth or flow rate during different periods is similar to those fish living in Ningmeng section. The four most commonly cooked fish in China refer to mylopharyngodon piceus, ctenopharyngodon idellus, hyypophthalmichthys molitrix and aristichthys nobilis. These four types of fish usually look for food in shallow water or shallow beach areas with float grass submerged by water, and spend winters (between December and February) in deep water. These fish are used to migrating to other areas to lay eggs. Their spawning period is usually in May, with the floating eggs often laid in deep water areas on one side of the water meander existing in the conjunction areas of mainstream river and tributaries, particularly in areas when the riverbed between the banks on both sides is suddenly narrowed. Therefore, the major factors that may affect their spawning quality include water flow rate, temperature and range. These fish must migrate a distance far enough for eggs to be successfully hatched, otherwise the eggs will sink down to the river bottom and die of suffocation. It usually takes over 4 days to hatch eggs. Ctenopharyngodon idellus and the other three fish species of its type need relatively high and changing water flow rates to stimulate spawning. Overbank flood is of great importance for fish living in the section between Qingtongxia and Huayuankou to look for food. Many fish could only reach a beach area by way of overbank floods to acquire rich food. Therefore, from the perspective of fish survival, the existence of overbank floods is necessary. However, here the overbank flood refers to a flood when the water surface may submerge the grass on both banks. (2) Dongping Lake ---Estuary Section
In this section, the ecological water demand is worked out by taking into consideration the demand of those migratory fish for water flow as well as the demands of fresh water fish. The key research object is the Lijin part. Different from the problems faced by fish in the section between Qingtongxia and Huayuankou, although the water quality of this section has also deteriorated since 1980s, the major problem faced by fish in this section is the remarkable reduction of water flow quantity during their different ecological periods such as spawning period, growing period and winter period. Moreover, the spawning areas for migratory fish are also destroyed to different extents. According to relative surveys, the migratory fish in this section mainly include coilia ectenes, sphyraenus, weever, Anguilla anguilla, salangidae, etc. These fish usually migrate to lay eggs during May and June. (3) Offshore Ware Areas Since the mud and sand carried by the Yellow River are abundant in organic substances with high nitrogen contents and rich nutrition, in addition to the unique climate and geographical conditions in the Delta areas, plankton and benthos may find favoured environments here. Therefore, as one of the most important fish farms in Bohai Bay, this area has rich estuarine animal resources on beach land and ample fish and shrimp resources in near sea water. Surveys show that there are a total of 193 fish species in this area (including 108 fresh water fish species), 2 first level national protected species and 7 second level national protected species. (Data source: Scientific Survey of the Natural Reserve in the Yellow River Delta) (4) Wetland in Estuary Delta The Yellow River Delta is a major stopover and breeding place for shorebirds migrating from East Asia to Australia, and a major place for North East Asian Cranes to spend winters and rest during the migration. Some rare and endangered bird species such as larus saundersi, ciconia boyciana and ciconia nigra also use this area as a major breeding and stopover place. Other protected birds such as swans, pelecanus philippensis and falco tinnunculus also choose this delta as a major place to spend winters and stop for rest and reproduction. Surveys show that there are a total of 283 bird species in this area (including 32 resident birds,63 summer residents, 28 winter residents and 160 migratory birds), with 9 first level national protected species such as the red-crowned crane and 41 second level national protected species. There are also 393 plant species in this area, among them Glycine soja, a second level national protected plant. (Data source: Scientific Survey of the Natural Reserve in the Yellow River Delta) The combination of shrubs, rivers, beaches and morass helps provide key ecological conditions for diversified bird species.
Basic Data Collection & Monitoring for Public Welfare Project
Project support: public welfare project of the Ministry of Water Resources "Research into the impact of controlling projects on the main stream of Yellow River to water way’s ecological system and ecological dispatch" The project team conducted a one-month survey along the whole river in May 2008. Researchers from the Institute of Hydrobiology of Chinese Academy of Science collected the biological, chemical and physical data from major river sections and worked out a research report. Based on these data, they evaluated the healthy conditions of the Yellow River and analyzed the relations between hydrophytes and benthos and river runoff. A conceptual model was established based on these biological, chemical and physical data, which could be used to analyze the relations between the downstream fish (Yellow River carp, saury and Anguilla anguilla) and the major water quantity factors. Building on the result, researchers preliminarily worked out the ecological water demand of these three fish species in different sections and periods.
Satellite-Based Water Monitoring & River Forecast System
In October 2003, the Chinese government and the Dutch government officially approved the launch of a cooperative project aimed to "build a satellite-based water monitoring and river forecast system for the Yellow River". The project was finished in March 2009. Guided by the Ministry of Water Resources, the Yellow River Conservancy Commission decided to cooperate with Dutch companies EARS, IHE and Hefeng Company to build the satellite-based water monitoring and river forecast system for the Yellow River. This project consisted of a satellite (from Zhengzhou and Lanzhou) data reception and process system, an LAS (large aperture scintillometer) ground heat flux and net radiation monitoring system, an energy and water balance monitoring system, a drought monitoring system, a source area runoff forecast system for the Yellow River, a downstream flood forecast system for the Wei River and an achievements release system. The development of the system was in line with the contracts as well as the normal practice of international cooperation, and in accordance with the specification requirements. Following the correct technology route, the system is advanced and practical in use. The trial operation proved to be safe and stable due to a number of scientific and technological innovations. The system documentation is complete and up to standard. The implementation of this project helps enhance the forecast ability and technology level in the hydraulic monitoring of the Yellow River. In particular, it has explored an effective channel for water monitoring in areas with adverse conditions and low population. Given further expansion, continuous spatial monitoring on water body, desertification, plantation and soil water content can be realized. 34
Monitoring on Fishery Industry along Yellow River
At present, all the 9 provinces (autonomous regions) along the Yellow River have the presence of fishery sectors, which have accumulated a certain amount of research documents related to fish species and ecological information based on their survey and research regarding the fish quantity, quality and output in each province. The fishery surveys conducted by the Bureaus of Aquatic Products, Fishery Bureaus, Fishery Environment Monitoring Stations, Aquatic Products Research Institutes and other agencies of similar functions mainly include the following parts. 1. The landscape survey on the mainstreams and major tributaries crossing each city along the Yellow River. 2. The working foundation for the fishery resources baseline survey in Yellow River Basin 3. The survey on the fishery resources along the Yellow River as well as aquatic creatures (such as fish, seashell, crab, shrimp, zooplankton, phytoplankton plankton, zoobenthos and aquatic vascular plants) and terrestrial creatures (such as birds and amphibious animals) related to fishery resources. 4. The information related to the name, scope and protected species in natural reserves for aquatic wild animals and aquatic product seeds. 5. The information related to the types, time, location, quantity, investment, organizers, seed sources and quarantine situation of breeding and releasing operations. 6. The information related to the structure of government agencies in charge of fishery industry, including subordinating departments, the number of agencies and staff, ships and boats (number/power/tonnage), vehicles, fishery workers ( number of active staff), etc. 7. The information related to bans on fishing, including the ban period and banned species, areas, fishing methods as well as the policies for fish farmers receiving subsidies or lowest life guarantee; the possible impact of such bans on the production and lives of fish farmers as well as the countermeasures. 8. The legal basis of fishing bans implemented by local agencies; checking whether there are modified or newly launched local rules, laws and regulations. 9. The status quo, experience and existing problems of the fishing bans and opinions and suggestions on the implementation of these bans in the Yellow River. According to relative surveys, by 2007 there were a total of 16 fish species in the upstream river, mainly in cyprinidae and cobitidae such as schizothorax, leuciscus and micronemacheilus; 71 in the midstream river and 78 in the downstream river. The output of freshwater aquatic products in
the provinces (autonomous regions) along the river was 2.8719 million tons, with 2.609 million tons or 90.9% coming from artificial breeding. In addition, on January 16, 2007, with the Ministry of Agriculture taking the lead, the fishery agencies from Qinghai, Sichuan and the remaining 7 provinces (autonomous regions) jointly established a Management Committee of Fishery Resources in the Yellow River , one of whose jobs is to coordinate the surveys on fishery resources and aquatic wild fauna and flora resources as well as the monitoring work related to the eco-environment of the fishery waters.
Water Resource Management
Water Volume Distribution
Water Distribution & Control
As the lower reach of the Yellow River is a suspended river in the downstream, added with high sediment concentration, a certain amount of water needs to be reserved to transport the sediment into the sea for flood prevention. According to the measurements and calculations by departments concerned, at least 20~24 billion m3 water is needed to carry the sand to guarantee the silt load of the river course is no more than 400 million tons every year. (Most of the water for this use is from the flood season which is impossible to be utilized.) Therefore, out of the annual total runoff of 58 billion m3 averaged in the past years, the water eligible for distribution each year stays at 37 billion m3 if deducting 21 million m3 for sediment carrying. However, in 1983 the provinces (autonomous regions) along the stream required of Yellow River Conservancy Commission a total of 74.7 billion m3 for the year of 2000, double the volume available for distribution at that time. Yellow River Water Resource Development and Resource Forecast which was promulgated in 1984 proposed water distribution plans for each province (autonomous regions) based on the forecast of water needs for the main stream, tributaries and different reaches. In August 1984, the National Planning Commission discussed with branch commissions of various provinces (autonomous regions and cities) which had a close relationship with water distribution and departments of the State Council about the Initial Opinion on the Forecast and Distribution of Yellow River Runoff delivered by Ministry of Water Resources at a national planning conference. In 1987, Report on the Distribution Plan of the Water Resources Available in Yellow River (Table 1-1), jointly worked out by the then National Planning Commission and the Ministry of Water Resources, was approved by the State Council in principle and issued as Document(1987)No. 61. Taking into consideration the maximum water supply capacity of Yellow River, the water distributed to each province (autonomous region) is the maximum volume available in normal years for both the main stream and tributaries. To support the plan in technology, the departments concerned did much detailed balance algorithms for water amounts in different sections, predicted the water use demands of the main stream, tributaries and various departments and suggested respective water distribution indices. (See Table 1-2). Table 1-1 Yellow River Water Distribution Plan before South-to-North Water Transfer Project (Unit: 100 million m3)
Inner Shaanxi Mongolia
Hebei & Tianjin
Table 1-2 Industrial, Agricultural and Domestic Water Consumption for Different Sections of Yellow River
(Unit: 100 million m )
Agriculture Effective Irrigation Area Water Consumption (10,000 mu）
Urban Life & Industrial Water Consumption
Total Water Need
Above Hekou Town
Above Sanmen Gorge
Water Supply Guarantee Rate: Agriculture:75%; Industrial & Urban Life: 95%
Compared with the distribution plan in 1954, this one displayed fundamental changes in the mindset guiding water resources distribution. Based on the consideration of the carrying capacity of the Yellow River, it gives equal attention to water use needs for national economy and sediment carrying in the river course, embodying the philosophy to strike a balance between the sustainable development of the society and economy and the sustainable utilization of water resources. As the first basin-wide water distribution plan in China, Distribution Plan of the Water Resources Available in Yellow River clarified for the first time the right of the provinces (autonomous regions) in the basin to utilize water of the Yellow River, and became the basic guideline for the unified management and dispatch of water resources in the basin. It is the indices to macro regulate the water utilization for the economic and social development of the provinces (autonomous regions) concerned. The approving opinion of the State Council requires various provinces (autonomous regions) in the basin to arrange the scale and layout of their social and economic development in a reasonable manner with the indices as the control.
Internal Water Distribution within Province (Autonomous Region)
As the economy develops in the basin, contradictions between supply and demand of water resources have deepened. Since the 1990s, increasingly serious problems of water shortages
and flow cutout in the downstream of Yellow River have seriously impaired the sustainable development of the economy and society. In order to ease the contradiction of water supply and demand and mitigate water cutout, the National Planning Commission and Ministry of Water Resources, together with relevant departments and local governments, jointly worked out Plan on Yellow River Annual Water Distribution and Main Stream Water Dispatch, and Administrative Measures on Yellow River Water Dispatch, according to the requirements of the State Council and Water Law. The two were approved by the State Council and issued and brought into effect by the National Planning Commission and Ministry of Water Resources on Dec. 14th, 1998. Plan on Yellow River Annual Water Distribution and Main Stream Water Dispatch clarified monthly water distribution indices for Distribution Plan of the Water Resources Available in Yellow River (Table 1-3), laying the foundation for the compilation of a water distribution plan for different inflow years. Yellow River water dispatch combines yearly, monthly and ten-day period plans with real-time dispatch orders. The dispatch year for Yellow River water runs from July 1st to June 30th of the next year. The yearly water dispatch plan was developed by Yellow River Conservancy Commission together with water departments of the provinces (autonomous regions) along the river, Yellow River bureaus and reservoir management departments in Shandong and Henan provinces and was approved and issued by the State Council. Upon approval, it will serve as the basis to identify monthly and ten-day period plans and decide on yearly water control indices for Yellow River main stream and tributaries. Based on the approved water distribution plan and the forecast to annual natural inflow and variables of reservoir water storage, the water distribution plan for different inflow years shall be made balancing yearly water use applications and suggestions to the operation of reservoirs while considering the need of water to carry sediment.
(Unit: 100 million m3)
Yellow River Water Distribution Indices in Normal Year
Provinces (Autonomous Regions, Cities)
Jul.〜Oct. Nov.〜Jun. Whole Year
Hebei & Tianjin
Percentage of each month
Total Water Abstraction Licensing Control & Management
In the control and management of total water abstraction licensing, the Yellow River Conservancy Commission is mainly responsible for verifying and issuing control indices of total water abstraction licenses and indices for surplus water amounts for various provinces (autonomous regions), and examining and approving the programs withdrawing water from the Yellow River within their mandates. The water administrative departments at provincial level control the total number of approved water abstracting projects in the province (autonomous regions) according to the indices issued by Yellow River Conservancy Commission based on the information of the water volume already approved. Their working process is shown in Figure 1-1:
Collect and analyze the data on water abstraction and subsiding
Calculate total water abstraction licensing control indices of different provinces (autonomous regions)
Pool the water abstraction volume in the basin and province (autonomous region) for exam and approval
Calculate surplus water indices of different provinces (autonomous regions)
YRCC releases total volume control indices and surplus water indices to each province (autonomous region)
YRCC and relevant local water departments control the exam and approval of the programs according to surplus water indices situation
Management Process of Water Abstraction Licensing Control in the Basin
YRCC adopted the system of water resource argumentation for construction programs, according to the provisions of Management Method of the Argumentation to Water Resource of Construction Projects promulgated by the then National Planning Commission and Ministry of Water Resources in 2002. Being a strong technical support, this process has been an essential part of the examination and approval of water abstraction licensing projects.
Water Right Transfer Management
YRCC kicked off the research into water right transfer in 2003 by asking Ningxia and Inner Mongolian Autonomous Regions to develop the overall planning for water right transfer in Yellow River. Upon the approval of the overall plan, efforts were made to exam and approve the water right transfer feasibility report and water resource argumentation report of each project, so to as identify water utilization scales, water amounts index for water right transfer and the scale of the projects in the irrigating area. Meanwhile, Ministry of Water Resources issued Guiding Opinions on the Trial Work of Yellow River Mainstream Water Right Transfer in Inner Mongolia and Ningxia, and YRCC promulgated Management Measures for the Implementation of Yellow River Water Right Transfer and Verifying Measures to Water Conserving Projects Concerning Yellow River Water Right Transfer which have all presented detailed regulations on issues including water right transfer time limit, maintenance of water saving projects, and the monitoring and management mechanism for project construction. There are leading groups and special agencies in governments, departments of water resources of Ningxia and Inner Mongolia, and cities such as Ordos, making up a complete management system. Based on the principle of “steady progress”, YRCC tried 5 pilot projects in the initial phase and gradually promoted more according to the principles of negotiation and voluntarism. A total of 26 water right transfer programs have been approved until now, with the total transfer volume of 228 million m3, an accumulated water saving of 257 m3. The total investment for water-saving projects hit 1.226 billion Yuan with 5.38 Yuan for each cubic metre. The approved projects have been progressed smoothly. 1716.705 km of canal lining of a water saving project have been completed in Ningxia and Inner Mongolia, in which the main canal lining totalled 155.424 km, branch main canal 36.460 km and branch canal, lateral and sublateral canals 1524.821km. 31794 canal establishments of different types were built up, with a total investment of 798 million RMB, 65% of the approved pool. 164 million m3 of water transfer has been completed. Self-irrigation zone of the south bank of Ordos has completed the construction task for water right transfer planning before 2010.
Yellow River Water Dispatch Management
Promulgated by the State Council, Yellow River Water Dispatch Regulations officially came in effect in August 2006. As the first national regulation especially issued for Yellow River, it marks a milestone in the development history of Yellow River. It summarized, systematized and institutionalized the practice of unified dispatch and management of water resources, which served as a strong legal guarantee. After the promulgation of the Regulation, YRCC organized the provinces (autonomous regions) in the basin to detail their work on water abstraction control indices. Under the principle of combining total volume control with quota management, the yearly water consumption indices in normal years distributed to each province (autonomous region) by Distribution Plan of the Water 42
Resources Available in Yellow River were broken into each league (city), with clear identification of the control index for both the main stream and tributaries of the Yellow River (a separate list is needed for key tributaries). At present, all the provinces (autonomous regions) along the stream are active in doing the job. Once the detailed plan for the total volume control indices is approved, it will be further decomposed to each county (banner). In Yellow River basin, there are 76 tributaries whose catchment area is over 1000km2, and annual average natural runoff 44 billion m3. Of the 76 tributaries, 7 have an average natural runoff of 1 billion m3, 45% of the whole stream and water consumption of 100 million m3, and 21% of the whole stream. Moreover, as the economy has developed in recent years, the water consumption in tributaries has also risen rapidly with sharply decreasing volume contribution to the mainstream, deteriorating pollution and even flow cutout in certain tributaries. All these changes have greatly affected the water supply and ecological safety in the lower reaches. Therefore, unified water dispatch of key tributaries is in urgent demand. Based on relevant requirements from Yellow River Water Dispatch Regulations, a coordination conference on the dispatch of key tributaries decided to dispatch the water of 9 tributaries in three different ways according to the specific situations of each: efforts will be taken to manage the water use plan for Qingshui and Dahei rivers; for Tao River, Huang River (including Datong River), Fen River, Yiluo River, and Dawen River, the border of provinces (autonomous regions) and the crossing area into Yellow River will be key areas of control, in order to best alleviate the drying out situation of tributaries; for Wei and Qin rivers, there will be plans to manage the water use, guarantee their minimum inflow into Yellow River and control the water volume at the border linking different provinces and autonomous regions and carry out monthly dispatches in non-flooding seasons to realize the planned dispatch of tributary water gradually. Under the macro-control, monitoring and supervision of YRCC, the specific work concerning tributary water dispatches is largely done by relevant provinces (autonomous regions). The key lies in volume control at the border linking different provinces and autonomous regions and the inflow volume into Yellow River as well as the total tributary water consumption. This is significant in promoting a better combination of basin and region management. The development process of water resource management of Yellow River is as shown in Figure 1-2 while Figure 1-3 depicts the multi-layer water distribution process.
Tributary Volume Control
Total Volume Control Water Right Realization
Water Dispatch Regulations
Total Abstraction Licence Management
Initial Water Abstraction Licence Right Distribution Implementation Details
Water Dispatch Management Measures
Initial Development Water Supply Distribution Plan Comprehensive Utilization Planning
1-2 Development of Water Resource Management
Yellow River Conservancy Commission
Water Departments at Provincial Level (or Yellow River Bureau at Provincial Level)
Water Department at City Level (or Yellow River Bureau at City Level)
Water Department at County Level (or Yellow River Bureau at County Level)
Household User in Irrigation Zone
Multi-layer Water Distribution Process
Yellow River Water Environmental Protection
Yellow River Water Function Zoning
Surface Water Function Zoning
As the core and basis of water resource protection management and planning, function zones are divided and approved by the provincial governments according to the present situations of Yellow River water resources, the overall requirements as to water protection and development and the provisions of law and regulations upon the coordination of various provinces (autonomous regions). Water Function Zone Classification
Zoning Level I
Development & Utilization Zone
Zoning Level II
Sewage Control Zone
Landscape & Entertainment Water Use Zone
Fishery Water Use Zone
Agricultural Use Zone
Industrial Water Use Zone
Drinking Water Source Zone
Classified System of Water Function Zones
(I) Zone Level I Zones of level I include Protection Zone, Reserved Zone, Buffer Zone and Development & Utilization Zone. 1 Protection Zone is the water area which is crucial to the protection of water resources, ecological environment and rare and endangered species. It can be further divided into four 45
categories: Water Source Protection Zone, Nature Protection Zone, Ecological Water Use Protection Zone and Dispatch Source Protection Zone. 2 Reserved Zone refers to the waters which have not yet been highly developed and utilized, but are reserved for future development and water resource protection. 3 Buffer Zone is the waters specially delineated to coordinate the water usage of neighbouring provinces (autonomous regions) or to protect the quality of Protection Zone which in case is linking Development & Utilization Zone. 4 Development & Utilization Zone is the waters to satisfy water demands in urban living, industrial and agricultural production, fishery or entertainment. Zoning of level I function zones was carried out in provinces (autonomous regions), covering the key waters in 12 water systems, 271 rivers and 3 lakes. There are altogether 488 function zones. In Yellow River Basin, level I zoning stretches a total length of 35.4 thousand km, out of which 5464km accounts for Yellow River’s main stream, taking up 15.4% of the total. The zoning also touched 270 tributaries with a total length of 30 000 km, 84.6% of the total length of the river zoned. Besides this, three lakes are also included, with a total area of 456 km2. See Table 2-1 and 2-2 for detailed distribution of the level I function zones zoned in rivers and lakes: Table 2-1 Level I River Water Function Zone in Yellow River Basin
Function Zones of Level I
Water Systems Number
Yellow River Main Stream
Table 2-2 Level I Lake Water Function Zone in Yellow River Basin
Lakes Water Systems
Yellow River Main Stream
Number of Lakes
Provinces (Autonomous Regions)
Among the 485 level I function zones in the Yellow River basin, 146 are Protection Zones, making up 30.1% of the total and the river length totals 9 thousand km, 25.4% of the whole. 82 are Reserved Zones, accounting for 16.9%, river length 7 thousand km, 19.8% of the total. 196 are Development and Utilization Zones, accounting for 40.4% and river length 17.5 thousand km or 49.4% of the total. 61 are Buffer Zones, taking up 12.6% of the share and river length 1.95 thousand km or 5.4% of the whole.
e 2-3 Table Fu unction Zone Category
L Level I Functiion Zone in Rivers R of Yelllow River Ba asin
Protection n Zone
Developm ment & Utilization n Zone
Z Buffer Zone
Riv ver Length (km)
River Le ength (km)
River Length h (km)
River Length R (km)
River Length (kkm)
Huang H River
Kuye K River
Wuding W River
Beiluo B River
Dawen D River
Water W System Main n Main Stream m Stream m Wate er Tributaries System m Tao River
Reserve d Zone 16.9%
Deve elo pmen nt & ati Utiliza on e Zone
Reserved Zone 19.9%
Deve elo pmen nt & Utilizati on Zone
Buffer Zone 12.6%
P Protecti on n Zone
Protection n Zone 25.1%
L Length of Fu unction Zone Rivers
Number of o Function Zones Z
Buffer Zone 5.4%
Levvel I Function n Zones in Rivers R of Yello ow River Bassin
e are 3 level I zones in la akes, with 2 Protection P Zo ones of 448k km2 and 1 De evelopment & There 2 Utiliza ation Zone of o 8.2km .
(II) Level II Zoning Level II water function zoning is divided into Drinking Water Source Zone, Industrial Water Use Zone, Agricultural Water Use Zone, Fishery Water Use Zone, Landscape & Entertainment Water Use Zone, Transition Zone and Sewage Control Zone 1 Drinking Water Source Zone is the water area satisfying urban drinking demands. The water quality standards adopted in defining zones of this category shall be Surface Water Environment Quality Standards (GB3838-88) II and III according to water quality situation and the needs. 2 I Industrial Water Use Zone is the water area used for urban industrial use. The water quality standards adopted in defining zones of this category shall be Surface Water Environment Quality Standards (GB3838-88) IV, or no worse than present quality. 3 Agricultural Water Use Zone is the water area used for agricultural irrigation. The water quality standards adopted in defining zones of this category shall be Surface Water Environment Quality Standards (GB3838-88) V, or no worse than present quality. 4 Fishery Water Use Zone refers to the water areas which can serve as spawning sites, feeding area, winter spending area or migration routes for fish, shrimps, crabs and shellfish and those water areas which can raise aquatic animals and plants. The water quality standards adopted in defining such zones for rare fish species shall be Surface Water Environment Quality Standards (GB3838-88) II, or Standard III for ordinary fishes. 5 Landscape & Entertainment Water Use Zone is the water area where scenery, entertainment, nursing or holiday making can be provided. For natural outdoor bathing places or swimming pools which have direct contact with human skin, Surface Water Environment Quality Standards (GB3838-88) III shall apply, while for those waters with non-direct contact with human skin including landscape and entertainment, Standard IV shall apply. 6 Transition Zone is the water area circumscribed to link the two neighbouring function zones but of different water quality. The standard of the water flowing out of the cross section shall be up to the water quality requirement of the neighbouring function zone. 7 Sewage Control Zone refers to the water area which is to take domestic and productive wastes collectively. According to the real situation of each province (autonomous region), 465 level II function zones are divided into 196 Development &Utilization Zones in Yellow River basin based on abstraction purposes, industrial layouts, sewage situations, tourist attractions and river sections in major cities. Out of the 465 level II function zones, there are 68 Drinking Water Source Zones, 40 Industrial
Water Use Zones, 183 Agricultural Water Use Zones, 8 Fishery Water Use Zones, 18 Landscape & Entertainment Water Zones, 64 Transition Zones and 84 Sewage Disposal Zones. 22.214.171.124
Underground Water Function Zones
According to National Technique Outline for Underground Water Function Zoning, underground water function zones are divided into two levels: zoning level I and zoning level II. The former mainly balances the economic development and social use with the ecological and environmental protection, and outlines the overall plan of reasonable exploitation and protection of underground sources; the latter coordinates the relationships among different regions, departments, and underground function zones. Underground water is classified into three level I zones: Development Zone, Protection Zone, and Reserved Zone. Within the framework of zoning level I, zones of level II are further classified, according to their main functions, into eight kinds, i.e.: Development Zones include collective supply source zones, and distributed exploitation and utilization zones; Protection Zones include ecological fragile zones, geological disaster susceptible zones, and underground water source protection zones; and Reserved Zones include unsuitable developing zones, storage zones, and emergency water source zones. Based on the above classifications, the following conclusions can be drawn with regard to the division of underground water along the Yellow River basin. (1) Development Zone There are 410 superficial layer underground water source development zones, with a total area of 191.7 thousand km2. They are largely scattered among massifs and intermontane plains in the basin, while a few appear in ordinary plains, inland basin plains and desert regions (only in blind drainage areas of the Yellow River, the same below). There are 231 collective supply source zones, making up 56.2% of the development zones in the Yellow River basin, and the rest are distributed exploitation and utilization zones. Among level II zones, most of the 231 collective supply source zones are located in two sections: one is from Longmen to Sanmen Gorge, and the other is from Lanzhou to Hekou Town, since both are relatively large with cities close to one another, and with higher levels of industrial and agricultural development. With a number of 90 such zones, the first section is home to 39.0% of the collective supply source zones in the whole basin, while the second section is home to 58 such zones, equivalent to 25.1% in the whole basin; other zones are relatively fewer. Among the administrative zones at provincial level in Yellow River basin, the 231 collective supply source zones are mainly located in Shaanxi, Gansu and Inner Mongolia, with cities close to one another, and with higher level of industrial and agricultural development. The number of such zones in Shaanxi is 50, making up 21.6% of the total in the Yellow River basin; the number in Gansu is 42, 18.2% of the total; and that in Inner Mongolia is 34, 14.7% of the total. In other provinces, collective supply source zones are relatively fewer.
Among level II zones, 179 distributed exploitation and utilization zones are also mainly located in the two sections: from Longmen to Sanmen Gorge, and from Lanzhou to Hekou Town. 43.6% of the total are in the first section, numbering 78, while the second section is home to 15.6% of the total, numbering 28. Among the administrative zones at provincial level in Yellow River basin, the 179 zones are mainly located in Shaanxi and Shanxi, while the number in Shaanxi is 41, making up 22.9% of the total, and that in Shanxi is 54, equivalent to 30.2% of the total. In other provinces, distributed exploitation and utilization zones are relatively fewer. (2) Protection Zone There are 180 superficial layer underground water source protection zones, with a total area of 492.3 thousand km2. They are mainly scattered among massifs, while a few appear in intermontane plains, ordinary plains, inland basin plains and desert regions. There are 56 ecological fragile zones, making up 31.1% of the protection zones; there are 8 geological disaster susceptible zones, making up 4.4% of the total, and the remaining 116 are all underground water source protection zones. Among level II zones, 56 ecological fragile zones are also mainly located in all the level II function zones except the section from Hekou to Longmen Gorge. The section above Longyang Gorge has 18, the biggest number of such ecological fragile zones. Among the administrative zones at provincial level in Yellow River basin, the 56 ecological fragile zones are mainly located in Shanxi, Qinghai, Ningxia and Henan. Among the eight geological disaster susceptible zones, seven are between Longmen and Sanmen Gorges, while the other one is in the section between Lanzhou and Hekou Town. As for the administrative zones of the provincial level, four are in Shaanxi, three in Shanxi, and the remaining one is in Inner Mongolia. Among level II zones, 116 underground water source protection zones are also mainly located among massifs. 43 of the list are in the section between Longmen and Sanxia Gorges, making up 37.1%. 24 are between Lanzhou and Hekou Town, contributing 20.7% to the list. As for the administrative zones of the provincial level, they are mainly in Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia, Gansu and Qinghai. (3) Reserved Zone There are 103 superficial layer underground water source reserved zones, with a total area of 111.0 thousand km2. They are mainly scattered among massifs and intermontane plains, while a few appear in ordinary plains, inland basin plains and desert regions. 94 are zones not suitable for exploitation, making up 91.3% of the total along the basin, 8 storage zones contribute 7.8% to the total number, and the remaining one is an emergency water source zone. Among level II zones, 94 are unsuitable Development Zones. 32 of the list are in the section 51
between Longmen and Sanmen Gorges, making up 34.0%. 27 are between Lanzhou and Hekou Town, contributing 28.7% to the total. There is no zone of this category along the section above Lanzhou. As for the administrative zones of the provincial level, 58 are in Shanxi, making up 61.7% of the list; 27 are in Ningxia, equivalent to 28.7% of the total. Seven of the eight storage zones are in Inner Mongolia, and the remaining one is in Qinghai. The emergency water source zone is in Ningxia.
Water Quality Management in the Yellow River Basin
Due to the continuous and rapid development of social economy and increase of the exploitation of water resources, sewage discharge in the Yellow River basin has seriously polluted water resources and damaged the function of water bodies and the ecological environment. Among the 83 cross sections surveyed in the Yellow River quality assessment in 2004, 72.3% failed the Grade III quality standard. Meanwhile, among the water sources for cities along the main stream of the Yellow River, 70.0% still fall short of the standards of ground water source sites of drinking water, posing a big threat to drinking water safety along the River. Management of the water function zones has been adopted. Promulgated in 2002, the new Water Law adopted the management of the water function zones as a system for water resource protection, and credited some institutions along the basin with related zoning, detection and announcement capabilities. Ministry of Water Resources promulgated Water Function Zone Management Measures and Sewage Discharging Outlet Monitoring Measures in May 2003 and November 2004 respectively. The two regulations have focused on inspection of sewage discharging outlets and permissible quantity of pollutants, monitoring the quality status of the key function zones and important pollutant quantity, in order to regulate the sewage discharges, effectively achieve the management of function zones and guarantee drinking water safety. According to the Sewage Discharging Outlet Monitoring Measures issued by the Yellow River Conservancy Commission in Oct 2006, the Protection Bureau of the Yellow River Water Resources is the institution in charge of water resource protection. The Bureau takes charge of the acceptance and investigation as well as the management of the river outfall applications. Control on the total amount of pollutants discharged into the River has been strengthened. Water quality in the stages below Longmen Gorge has decreasing since the winter of 2002. To prevent its deterioration and to ensure drinking water safety, a regulation on the Yellow River pollutant discharge control was distributed to Shanxi, Shaanxi, Henan and Shandong Provinces in 2003. The total discharging volume of major pollutants has dropped since then, while water quality in the main stream has also improved. To strengthen the pollutant discharging control, Suggestions on Yellow River Sewage Permission Capacity and Volume Control was completed by Yellow River Conservancy Commission in 2004. The file has been approved by Ministry of Water Resources and submitted to the former State Bureau of Environmental Protection. These 52
suggestions have provided an important reference for the work on water pollutants control, and represented an important move in maintaining the health of the Yellow River. A rapid reaction system to cope with severe water pollution events has been established. The main stream of Yellow River suffered from low volume in 2002 and the water became severely polluted. To deal with the situation, the Yellow River Conservancy Commission immediately worked out trial reporting measures for severe pollution events. In April, 2003, the Yellow River main stream in Lanzhou section suffered from oil pollution, provoking the birth of emergency treatment regulations for severe pollution events by the Yellow River Conservancy Commission. The birth of the two regulations has initially formed the rapid reaction system on severe water pollution events. Then the Yellow River Conservancy Bureau and the Hydrographic Office introduced the emergency response plan and post responsibility system. Due to the above regulations and plans, several water pollution events later were controlled in time, including pollution at Lanzhou section, the unusual condition of the water quality at the Tongguan section and pollution at Inner Mongolia section on June 26th 2004. These timely treatments effectively protected the Yellow River water resources and reduced the damages at the maximum degree. A united control system on pollution in Yellow River basin has been established. The Yellow River water resources protection and pollution treatment is a complicated project. The problem can never be solved with only the efforts of water conservancy administration, and must be tackled by adopting the method of “coordination, cooperation, and concerted treatment”. In June 2003, Premier Wen Jiabao made an important instruction for solving the pollution at the Yellow River basin, which can be depicted as follows: the water conservancy and environmental protection departments should cooperate to file out plans, preparations and treatment measures, to prevent the Yellow River from drying out or further pollution. The Yellow River Conservancy Commission then discussed with provinces (autonomous regions) and submitted suggestions on joint mechanisms for Yellow River water resources protection. After further discussions and adjustments by Ministry of Water Resources and the previous State Bureau of Environmental Protection, a Yellow River pollution control framework has been finally established, including an information reporting system, a major problems consultation system, protection and prevention planning as well as an environmental monitoring network. To guarantee safe supply during the eighth time of diversion project from the Yellow River Stream to Tianjin, the Yellow River Conservancy Commission cooperated with the departments concerned in Shanxi, Shaanxi and Henan, and promulgated the Control Plan on Water Pollution during the Period of Diversion Project From the Yellow River Stream to Tianjin, which was later approved and come into obvious effect. The sewage discharging outlets will be supervised and inspected. Based on the responsibilities granted by Water Law to the institutions along the reach to supervise and inspect discharging outlets, the Trial Management Measures of Sewage Discharging Outlets was issued, according to which pollution registration should be carried out at Yellow River main stream and main tributaries of the river. Meanwhile, the monitoring system has been launched to expose the 53
corporations that over-discharge and report them to the local government and environmental protection departments. In order to balance the quality and volume control of the Yellow River basin, the Management Measures for Quality Permission of Abstraction was introduced. The water quality control can be seen in every process of Yellow River water usage, from water resources assessment construction projects to withdrawal permits and monitoring systems. In the work of water allocation, the requirements on water quality are given full consideration in the drafting and implementation of allocation plans. To ensure the safety of Yellow River water supply, the Yellow River Conservancy Commission introduced a water quality prediction model, through which predictions for ten days in advance are released on ten-day detections, together with the corresponding allocation plan.
Ecology Restoring Programs
The Yellow River Conservancy Commission adopted the measure of planned artificial recharge on the wetlands at Yellow River Delta, in combination with diverting water and sand in 2008. According to the monitoring data, 13.56 million m3 of water was recharged last year to the 150 thousand mu of freshwater wetland area in the Yellow River Delta, with the water depth in the core region increasing by 0.3 metres on average. Since June 24th 2009, a ten-day artificial recharge was started on fresh water wetlands of the estuary of 150 thousand mu, with a total volume of 15.08 million m3, 1.52 million more than that of the previous year. According to the satellite remote sensing data of June 19th and July 4th, the water area of wetland core zone has increased by 52,200 mu. After the water recharge, the average water depth increased by about 0.4 metres. Meanwhile, due to the near-sea area overflow, the area of the river channel rose by 43.700 mu. By July 5th, the underground water level was elevated by 0.15m, with significant ecological and social benefits. Cold and Arid Regions Environmental and Engineering Research Institute of Chinese Academy of Sciences and Lanzhou Two-mountain Afforestation Headquarter compiled Suggestions on National Programs of Ecological Restoration in Upper and Middle Reaches of the Yellow River, and the Implementation Plan for Lanzhou Experiment Zone of Ecological Restoration in Upper and Middle Reaches of the Yellow River. According to the two documents, new methods, new techniques and new ideas should be introduced in the ecological restoration and recovery of the middle and upper reaches of the Yellow River. According to the plan, the vegetation coverage in the area is going to be raised by 50% in about thirty years; meanwhile, the water loss and sediment will be decreased by about 40%. Eighteen programs will be established under the Program on Environmental Protection and Construction of Key Function Zone for Water Resource Supply in Gannan, in order to improve the ecological environment and upgrade the water resource protection ability of the Yellow River. The programs are in three categories including ecological protection and restoration, farmer and 54
herdsman life and production, and ecological protection system. There will be three stages of the environmental restoration and protection project in Taiyuan Fen River area, which are as follows: in the near future, nine projects will be implemented including the Fen River channel ecological restoration project between Lancun and Qingxu, the domestic wastewater treatment project in Taiyuan, industrial effluents treatment project, coal mine environmental restoration project, mine water recycle project, river water quality monitoring project, and ecological treatment project in Fen River area. Through the treatment on Fen River main stream, the underground water level will stop declining in the near future. Meanwhile, both the water quality and the ecological environment will be much better. The Yellow River Conservancy Commission implemented 33 ecological restoration pilot projects in 2002, 2004 and 2005. The pilot projects covered thirty counties (county-level cities, autonomous banners) in eight provinces (autonomous regions). The trial programs have been underway for seven years. Now the ecological environment has been far improved, as the problem of water loss and soil erosion was effectively solved and the rural living conditions have reached a new level. Management Plan for Ten Kongduis (seasonal stream) is an overall plan after years of lessons and experience, which focuses on the idea of “gathering, blocking, dividing, and using”. On the slopes, it adopts the enclosure measure, added with planting trees and grasses, in order to restore the vegetation, increase the surface resistance to corrosion and protect water source; as for the channel treatment, the plan focuses on establishments of small basin dams, which can be supplemented with the middle and small-sized dams and form the dam systems to block the flood and sand, as well as prevent trench corrosion; on the banks of the main channel, beach forest will be built to stabilize river beds. Projects which introduce floods to treat sand storms have been established in the section across Kubuqi desert and six similar projects have been built on the ten kongduis. Effects have been very satisfying, as silts entering the Yellow River are reduced by a large scale while the desert has been treated rapidly. This has been considered the No. 1 Program of the management of kongduis.
Scheduling and Management Measures
To achieve the unified management of both volume and quality of Yellow River water, we need to focus on the control over cross sections of the main stream, limited by the real situation. In addition, we need to pay attention to water demand for life, production and ecological use, as well as the total volume control plan, and then work out the standards for annual runoff, process and targeted quality level for each cross section. Based on the key restoration projects on the main stream including Longyang Gorge, Liujia Gorge, Wanjiazhai, Sanmen Gorge and Xiaolangdi, the volume control indicators at all cross sections can be reasonably scheduled. Focusing on the cross sections on the main stream of 55
Yellow River to manage the scheduling not only embodies the static control of the water resources of the River, but also reflects the processes of scheduling water volumes. According to the actual conditions of water scheduling on the Yellow River, restoration projects on typical tributaries such as Wei and Qin Rivers need to be further established to perfect the scheduling measures. The system of cross sections for controlling water quantity and quality can be improved based on the hydrology stations at the entry points to the Yellow River from typical tributaries. According to volume control indicators, such as total runoff into the Yellow River, the flow process and the quality targets, reasonable scheduling management of total volume will be conducted.
Yellow River Management Objective
Scientific Management of the Water Resources of Yellow River
We shall build up a unified system for the management and dispatch of the water resources of Yellow River, which is advanced, practical, reliable and efficient. It shall have the functions of broadband transmission to collect various information in real time so as to provide policy support to the development of a water dispatch plan, real time dispatch and dispatch monitoring plan. It shall also feature functions of information service, analysis and computation for the unified dispatch of Yellow River water. Yellow River water resource dispatch and management system is a very important component of “Digital Yellow River” Project. It also embodies the efforts to follow the mindset of the Ministry of Water Resources to “modernize traditional water conservancy and support the sustainable development of the economy and society with the sustainable utilization of water resources”. It also serves as a key measure to the informationization of water conservancy. This system can greatly contribute to the modernization of water resource management and dispatch, relieve the contradiction between water supply and demand, enhance the capability to prevent flow cutout, create a better ecological environment, optimize the allocation of Yellow River water and improve the scientific content and informational technology in the dispatch and management work. The system can be applied to manage the dispatch of water resources in Yellow River basin and relevant regions, with businesses covering data collection, information transmission, data processing, application and policy support. With Yellow River Water Dispatch Headquarter as the centre, it is composed of 7 subsystems including four-category information collecting system, five-grade network transmission architecture, three-level data storage, three-level dispatch management centre, two kinds of middle wares, eleven dispatch modules and policy supporting system. See the following chart for its overall framework.
YR Water Dispatch Management Policy Support
Water Dispatch Service Platform (Model base, Middleware, etc)
Water Dispatch Demands
Digital Yellow River Project Planning
Water Crisis Dispatch Operation Water Water Dispatch Resource Monitoring Dispatch Dispatch Information Dynamic Plan Forecast Service Handling Compilation Manage Module ment
Data Storage Management Platform (Database and management) Infrastructure
Data Transmission (Communication & Computer Network)
Information Collecting (Water Regime, Meteorology, Water Quality, Draught etc)
Structure of Allocation Management System of Yellow River Water
Legal Management of Water Resources
Yellow River Water Dispatch Regulations went into force on August 1, 2006. As the first national guideline especially for development and management of Yellow River at the national level, it is a milestone in the history of Yellow River development and management. Yellow River Water Dispatch Regulations established an integrated water resource management system, and introduced the general principles of water dispatch, namely total amount control, cross-section runoff control, hierarchic management and accountability. Based on the features of Yellow River water (more sand than water) and the provisions of Water Law of PRC, the regulations or YRWD identifies the sequence in water utilization while considering the prevention of flow cutout and the demand for social and economic development in certain areas, which prioritizes urban and household water usage and requires the rationalisation of agricultural, industrial and ecological water usage outside of the waterway while reserving enough to carry the sediment right into sea. The dispatch of Yellow River water resources is highly complicated and involves a host of other aspects. YRWD clarifies the responsibilities of the main players which is conducive to both work leadership and organization and can help to arouse people’s enthusiasm. YRWD introduces the 57
principle of hierarchic management and responsibility on the premise of unified dispatch and provides a legal basis for water dispatch YRWD’s promulgation sets up the legal status of yearly water dispatch planning, and poses strict requirements on both dispatch accuracy and the compilation and implementation of dispatch plans. In particular, for the dispatch and management of tributary water resources, it is also very strict. However, as the details for the implementation are still in trial phase, there are problems of ambiguity and practicability. The legal system for the management of water resources of Yellow River shall be further full-fledged so as to make the dispatch more legal-based and more effective.
Integrated Management of Yellow River Water Resources
126.96.36.199 Unified Dispatch of Main Stream and Tributaries With the social and economic development of Yellow River basin, the tributaries are now seeing increasing amounts of their water to be consumed. But at the same, lack of efficient management of key tributaries brings about higher flow cutout risk, which has undermined sustainable economic and social development in the region. Moreover, the descending inflow has also posed greater pressure to the management and dispatch of the mainstream water resources. Therefore, the management of Yellow River tributaries shall be urgently integrated into the overall control plan. With the implementation of YRWR, the range of the water subject to dispatch has been expanded from the main stream section below Liujiaxia Reservoir to all the main stream and tributary sections below the Longyang Gorge. The water resource management and dispatch has therefore extended from mainstream to a unified one including tributaries. It is then possible for us to realize a unified management of both main stream and tributaries. In response to the differences of each tributary, the management conditions and objectives for the dispatch of different tributaries have been identified with different management models. We shall establish a complete water dispatch system and mechanism, enhance the combination of region and basin managements, perfect the tributary hydrological monitory outlets, strengthen tributary runoff predictions, and set up tributary flow models and control their total amount, all of which are helpful to materialize integrated dispatch and management of both main stream and tributary waters. 188.8.131.52 Combined Dispatch of Surface and Underground Water The management of surface water in the Yellow River basin has been improved through all these years with much work done in greater detail. However, the management of underground water resources is very weak, which not only has already affected the management of the water 58
resources in the basin, but also goes ill with the optimization of water resources of Yellow River and the realization of total amount control. The development of the economy and the society is posing higher requirements over water resource management. Therefore, it is becoming increasingly urgent to strengthen underground water management and work for a joint dispatch and allocation of both surface and underground water. We shall establish underground water monitoring sites to better monitor underground water. Such sites shall be built in key areas of underground water exploitation, as well as where the rainfall, surface water and underground water frequently transform from each other. They shall be able to share the data of monitoring sites of local water resource departments so as to be fully aware of the dynamic changes of the underground water of the whole basin. A management system for the control of underground water exploitation and utilization shall also be built up to control the exam and approval of underground water exploiting projects based on the underground water index distributed to each administrative district. Much effort shall be done to define underground water over-exploited areas, limited exploitation areas and exploitation-forbidden areas, so as to monitor and supervise the exploitation and utilization of underground water. The basin management institute shall keep in mind a holistic picture of the changing situation of underground water and strike a balance between exploitation and supply. It shall prejudge the volume of water utilizable and then work out reasonable plans for its distribution and dispatch. The local water departments shall unify the distribution and dispatch of both underground water and surface water under the quota, to enable the two to complement each other.