|Giving a new life to the Yellow River?|
It described in detail two phaoronic projects known as the Great Western Water Diversion and the Yellow River Waterway Corridor.
It mentioned a preliminary feasibility study prepared by officials of the Ministry of Water Resources. The idea of the Chinese engineers is to divert 150 billion cubic meters of water and pomp these waters in the drying Yellow River to irrigate northern China. A giant reservoir near the Yellow River 'Maqu' Great Bend would regulate the flow of the river.
I am publishing here Section 3 to 6 of the article on the 'crazy' mega project.
Of interest to us in India are Section 4 and 6 on the diversion of the Yarlung Tsanpo (Yaluzangbu Jiang) or Brahmaputra (Siang in Arunachal).
Interestingly, Xinhua has just announced the construction of the Sichuan-Tibet grid: "Construction of power lines between Tibet and Southwest China's Sichuan province got underway."
The news agency reported: "The project will cost over 6.6 billion yuan ($1.08 billion), and should be complete in the first half of 2015, solving the power shortage and transmission problems in parts of Tibet. More than 1,521 kilometers of lines will connect Qamdo [Chamdo] prefecture in Tibet and the Tibetan autonomous prefecture of Garze in Sichuan, with four substations."
It further elaborated: "The project covers some very harsh terrain and work conditions are difficult with an average altitude of 3,850 meters. Shu Yinbiao, general manager of the State Grid, said that environmental protection and safe working conditions are vital to the project's success. Medical services for construction workers include 26 health centers and four hyperbaric oxygen chambers."
This could be linked to a future mega-project.
Here is the translation of Sections 3 to 6 of the article posted on the website of the Yellow River Conservancy Commission of the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources.
Overall Situation of Yellow River Navigation
The Yellow River shipping waterway, with the assistance of the "western line" water diversion project, will use the existing Yellow River riverway, and will open up navigation from the Bohai Bay to Lanzhou. The riverbed of the Yellow River will be excavated and dredged, to permit passage of 50,000-ton class vessels from the mouth of the Yellow River to Lanzhou, and with that, it will become the greatest "golden" waterway of the world. The main (note: or "trunk") shipping route of the Yellow River will be 3300 kilometers in length, from Dongying (note: a city in Shandong) at the mouth of the Yellow River into Bohai Bay, all the way to the upstream area of Lanzhou. It will pass through Shandong, Henan, Shaanxi, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia, and Gansu, a total of 7 provinces, providing access for 50,000-ton class ships. The shipping route along the Weihe, a tributary of the Yellow River, will extend for 388 kilometers, from Tongguan at the mouth of the Weihe, to the midstream area of Xianyang, for passage of 50,000-ton class ships. The shipping route along the Yiluohe, another tributary, will extend 50 kilometers, from the mouth of the Yiluohe to Luoyang, for passage of 50,000-ton class ships. The shipping route along the Fenhe, yet another tributary, will extend 600 kilometers, from Hejin at the mouth of the Fenhe, to the upstream area of Taiyuan, for passage of 50,000-ton class ships. The Datong shipping route, from the Qingshui River, to Datong, and on to Tongzhou, will extend for 1000 kilometers, from the upper reaches of the Qingshui River, in the middle of the Yellow River, along the Sanggan River, through the Guanting water reservoir, to Tongzhou District in Beijing. It will pass through Datong, and connect to the northern stretch of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal in Tongzhou, allowing passage of 1000-ton class vessels. On the lower reaches of the Yellow River, the Weihe and Majiahe secondary shipping routes on the North bank, as well as the Jialuhe and Huijihe secondary shipping routes on the South bank, will all connect to the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal, for passage of 1000-ton class vessels. The Beijing-Hangzhou Canal is 1700 kilometers in length, and can carry 10,000-ton class vessels. At its Northern reaches, it permits passage through Tianjin and into the Bohai Bay, whereas at its Southern end, it reaches Hangzhou, and permits passage out into the East Sea. As such, the entire marine shipping network will on one hand reach up to the Bohai, on the other down to the East Sea, and going inwards, all the way to the heart of the West, forming a super-network which will encompass half the country.
Overall Situation of Water Diversion Project
The ‘western line’ water diversion project, will draw 150 billion cubic meters of water from 6 rivers: the Yaluzangbu Jiang, the Nu Jiang, the Lancang Jiang, the Jinsha Jiang, the Yalong Jiang, and the Dadu He. The water will be sent to the Maqu Daguaiwan super-reservoir on the upper stretches of the Yellow River. Out of that water, 50 billion cubic meters will pass through man-made canals, sending 10 billion cubic meters to Qaidam Basin in Qinghai Province, 30 billion cubic meters to the Taklimakan Desert in Tarim Basin in Xinjiang Province, and 10 billion cubic meters to Lop Nur. The remaining 100 billion cubic meters will flow out along with the existing waterflow of the Yellow River, allowing many hydropower stations serving Lanzhou to operate at full capacity, as well as providing 50 billion cubic meters for diversion along the river branch at Qilihe District of Lanzhou. Those 50 billion will be carried by man-made canals, through the Hexi Corridor, sending 10 billion cubic meters to the Turpan Basin in Xinjiang, another 10 billion to the Junggar Basin, and 30 billion to boost the laggard waterflow of the Shiyang He, Hei He, and other rivers. The balance of 50 billion cubic meters will flow through the Yellow River to the ocean, boosting the river's water level to permit navigation.
Construction Plan for the Shipping Waterway
The construction can be divided into 2 phases: phase 1 will include tributary river projects, discharge waterway projects, tributary shipping waterway projects, shipping canal projects, and water-supply canal projects; phase 2 will include the main/trunk shipping waterway project, water locks, reservoir, widening of the Beijing-Hangzhou canal, and water-supply canals into the Northwest.
Tributary projects: These projects will start from the highest class of tributary rivers. First, simple, temporary dams will be built to shut off the entrances of the level-3 tributaries and their large and small gullies (note: or "ditches"), and they will be drained of water. Then, the riverbed will be dredged, and the slopes on either side of the river will be leveled (note: or "graded"?). Since gentle slopes are advantageous for preventing soil erosion, a 15-degree slope is best. Then, simple, temporary dams will be constructed on the level-2 tributaries and their large and small gullies, and the same procedure as above will be followed. Last will be the level-1 tributaries and their large and small gullies, with the same procedure again. As these projects progress to the lower-class tributaries, the amount of water to be drained will be larger and larger, so if it proves necessary, low-lying land can be found for excavation of temporary drainage reservoirs, or the water can be discharged through canals into other rivers.
Discharge Waterway projects: The Weihe and Majiahe, on the North bank of the lower reaches of the Yellow River, will be blocked off with temporary dams. Then the base of the trapezoidal cross-section of their entire riverbeds will be widened to a minimum of 100 meters, with a minimum depth of 9 meters, a normal water level of 6 meters, 15-degree slopes on each side, and an average downhill slope of 0.04% or less. The Jialuhe, Huijihe, and other similar tributaries on the South Bank will be dealt with in exactly the same way.
The discharge channels on the north bank will be situated at the mouth of the Fenhe, and will flow through man-made channels to the Weihe, Majiahe, etc. The discharge channels on the south bank will be situated at the mouth of the Qinhe, and will flow into the Jialuhe, Huijihe, etc. The trapezoidal cross-section of the discharge channels will be 150 meters wide at the base, at least 9 meters in depth, with a normal water level of 6 meters, a 15-20 degree slope on either side, and an average downhill slope of 0.04% or less.
The discharge channel for the Weihe (NOTE: this is *different* from the Weihe mentioned in the previous paragraph. The 2 names are written with different characters.) can make use of the existing Luohe; man-made channels will conduct water from the mouth of the Weihe to the middle reaches of the Luohe, and further down, other man-made channels will connect the Luohe to the discharge channels on the south bank. The trapezoidal cross-section of these channels will be 20 meters wide at the base, at least 9 meters in depth, with a normal water level of 6 meters, and a 40 degree slope on either side. There is no need to pay special attention to the downhill slope.
The discharge channel in the upriver area of Lanzhou will conduct water through Lanzhou, along the West side of the Yellow River, through Jingtai County, and into the Hexi Corridor. At Wuwei it will flow into the Shiyanghe. This channel will help in transporting water through the Hexi Corridor to Xinjiang.
Shipping Canal projects: Upstream from the temporary dams at the mouths of the Wei and Yiluo rivers, a large dam with water locks will be constructed, whereas upstream from Xianyang and Luoyang, "bottom-stretching" (or "bottom-reaching"? The name seems to indicate either that the dams extend up from the riverbed, which seems trivially true of any dam, or they extend deeper down into the riverbed.) water control dams will be constructed. The trapezoidal cross-section of the river bottom will be at least 400 meters at the base, with a depth of no less than 18 meters, a normal water level of 15 meters, and a slope of 20-25 degrees at the sides, as well as an average downhill slope of 0.04% or less. The trapezoidal cross-sections of other tributary rivers will be decided based on whether, whether they will be opened for shipping, and if so, what the class of ships sailing on them will be.
Canal projects: The canal from the Qingshui river, through Datong, and on to Tongzhou will have a dam with water locks at the entrance of the Qingshui. Another dam with water locks will be located at the exit of the Guanting water reservoir. The trapezoidal cross-section and slope will be the same as the discharge channels on the North and South sides of the lower stretches of the Yellow River.
Water-use Channel projects: (note: perhaps this refers to channels used for transporting water for irrigation? The name seems to indicate the water is for human use, not simply for shipping.) The discharge channel upstream from Lanzhou, also known as the Northwest Channel. It will have a branch which will be a water-use channel, stretching from Jingtai, along the Yellow River on its Northwest side, to Hohhot.
After the phase 1 projects are completed, the temporary dams for the Weihe, Majiahe, Jialuhe, and Huijihe, as well as other discharge channels, will be dismantled. All the temporary dams constructed at the mouths of level-1 tributaries will remain. The discharge channel on the upstream side of Lanzhou will be opened up. At the exit of the Northwest Channel, near Lanzhou, a temporary dam will be built on the side toward the downstream side of the Yellow River. The portion of the channel cut off by the dam will be drained. The water can be used locally, or if it is too much, it can be diverted into the desert and used for irrigation.
Dry-river projects: At the mouth of the Yellow River, going out into the sea, a temporary dam will be built. On the downstream side of the temporary dam at Lanzhou, a "bottom-stretching" water control dam will be built. The trapezoidal cross-section of the dry river bed will be at least 500 meters at the base, with a maximum depth of no less than 18 meters, normal water level of 15 meters, sides with slope of 20-25 degrees, and downhill slope same as the shipping channels. In the canyons of the upper and middle stretches of the Yellow River, the natural features of the terrain and its green cover can be maintained, but the depth and width of the channel must be enough to permit navigation.
The entrance of the Weihe water-supply channel is directly across (note: or "facing") the exit of the Lanzhou Northwest Channel.
Water-locks projects: Three "bottom-stretching" dams with water locks will be constructed on the dry riverbed at Heishanxia (Black Mountain Gorge), Tuoketuo, and Yumenkou. They will divide the drained riverbed into 4 sections, from Lanzhou-Heishanxia, Heishanxia-Tuoketuo, Tuoketuo-Yumenkou, and Yumenkou-Dongying. All three dams will have multiple locks, including one pair for 50,000-ton class ships, one pair for 20,000-ton class ships, one pair for 10,000-ton class ships, two pairs for 5000-ton class ships, and two pairs for 1000-ton class ships. The chamber inside the 50,000-ton class locks will have effective measurements of 300 by 50 by 12 (note: meters?). The width of the water-lock dams will be about 800 meters, with a depth of about 1500 meters.
Water reservoir projects: At the Maqu Great River Turn area, there will be a water reservoir with a capacity of 150 billion cubic meters. On the inner side of the Great River Turn area dikes will be built, and will connect with the mountains surrounding the area to form a vast reservoir 30 kilometers wide, 90 kilometers long, and 60 meters deep. The cofferdam dikes built around the reservoir will be trapezoidal in cross-section, with a 45 degree incline on the inner side, and a 30 degree incline on the outer side, running for a total length of 240 kilometers, at least 184 meters thick at the base, 60 meters tall, and at least 20 meters thick at the peak. The reservoir outlet will be on the downstream side of the Maqu Great River Turn area. The dikes will be constructed using gabions, with geo-membrane on the inner side, and filled with earth dug up on site.
Widening of the Beijing-Hangzhou Canal project: When the elevated riverbed of the Yellow River comes down to ground level (note: due to many years of silting, the last ~800km of the Yellow River is elevated above ground level and is kept on its course and prevented from overflowing by dikes), and connects with the Beijing-Hangzhou canal, the original capacity of the canal to carry vessels up to 1000 tons will make for a severe mismatch with the 50,000 ton vessel capacity of the Yellow River. Therefore, the capacity of the canal can be increased to carry 10,000 ton vessels, and the elevated portion of the canal in Shandong can be lowered to the same elevation as the connections with the Yellow and Yangze rivers. As the entire course is made flat and level, it will also be deepened and widened. The trapezoidal cross-section of the canal will be at least 300 meters at the base, at least 15 meters deep, with a normal water level of 12 meters, and a 20-25 degree slope on the sides. The average downhill slope of the canal will be decided by the relative elevation of the Yellow River and Yangze River riverbeds. If the slope is excessive, then the construction of water locks must be considered.
At the point where the Yellow River (primary shipping channel) exits to the sea at Dongying, the bottom will be dredged to a depth of at least 25 meters. In the gulf port at the mouth of the Yellow River, the depth to which the mooring berths will be dredged will be decided according to the depth which the ships require.
After the phase 2 projects complete, all the tributary and dry riverbed temporary dams will be dismantled. The water-use channels and bypass channels running along the Weihe and Yiluohe will be taken out of commission, but can be left in place in case they are useful in the future. The discharge channels on the North and South sides of the lower reaches of the Yellow River will be kept and will serve as secondary river channels. The primary river channel on the lower end of the Yellow River will become its primary shipping channel, and the secondary river channels will become secondary shipping channels. The primary and secondary Yellow River shipping channels, along with the Qingshui-Datong-Tongzhou canal and the Beijing-Hangzhou canals will all connect for passage of shipping traffic, and will form the main framework (note: literally "skeleton"; perhaps translate as "backbone"?) of the new marine shipping network.
The discharge channels chosen for use during the Yellow River shipping channel project, are all preexisting riverways, which will greatly reduce the work to be done and the amount of movement required. The discharge channels used on the upper stretches of the Yellow River, however, do include some man-made channels for diversion of water to the Hexi Corridor. These discharge channels will not require too much work, will not occupy too much space, and will not require many people to be relocated.
Since the average downhill slope of the Yellow River riverbed is as high as 0.46%, the limited water volume available cannot maintain the required depth when descending such a steep slope. If we were to limit the average slope to no more than 0.06%, the height of each big dam with water-locks would have to be extended as high as 400 meters, or more. If that was the case, the work required to build each dam, and the technical difficulty involved, as well as the work involved in building dikes on either side of the riverway, would be greatly increased. The enormous dams and dikes, protruding hundreds of meters from the ground, would form huge barriers, as well as being a safety hazard. While our plan does involve a certain degree of height to the dams, we solve the problem primarily by making the base of the dams extend down below ground level, thus increasing the difference between water level behind and in front of the dam, and making it possible to flatten out the slope of the riverbed. The height of those huge 400-meter dams will mostly be *below* ground level, greatly mitigating the safety hazard, and reducing the technical difficulty of construction. This way, the above-ground height of both dams and dikes can be kept within reasonable limits.
Plan for the Water Diversion Project
150 billion cubic meters of water are to be drawn from the Yaluzangbu Jiang, the Nu Jiang, the Lancang Jiang, the Jinsha Jiang, the Yalong Jiang, and the Dadu Jiang, and be diverted to the upper Yellow River. Of that amount, 50 billion cubic meters will be taken from the Yaluzangbu Jiang, approximately 30% of its yearly flow of 165.4 billion cubic meters; the Nu Jiang will contribute 24 billion cubic meters, roughly 35% of its yearly flow of 74 billion cubic meters; from the Lancang Jiang, 26 billion cubic meters, roughly 35% of its yearly flow of 74 billion cubic meters; from the Jinsha Jiang, 28 billion cubic meters, roughly 20% of its yearly flow of 143 billion cubic meters; from the Yalong Jiang, 12 billion cubic meters, roughly 20% of its yearly flow of 60.4 billion cubic meters; and from the Dadu Jiang, 10 billion cubic meters, roughly 20% of its yearly flow of 50 billion cubic meters.
The water outlet on the Yaluzangbu will be the point where the level-2 tributaries Palongzangbu and Yigongzangbu flow into the (level-1 tributary) Layue He. The diverted water will flow east along the Sichuan-Tibet Highway, from Mibo to Bashe, and will join the channel for water diverted from the Nu Jiang. The merged channel will contain flowing along the Sichuan-Tibet Highway, from Xiaya to Changdu, and will merge with the channel carrying diverted water from the Lancang Jiang. The channel, now carrying water from 3 rivers, will continue along the highway, from Jiangda to Dege, and will then merge with the channel carrying water from the Jinsha Jiang. The merged channel will will continue along the highway, past Que'er Mountain, through Manigange to Ganmu, and will then merge with the channel carrying water from the Yalong Jiang. Now carrying water from 5 rivers, the merged channel will continue along the same highway, through Huhuo, to Lianghekou, on the Dajin Chuan, a tributary of the Dadu He. There, it will merge with the water diverted from the Dadu He, and will turn North, flowing along the Aba Highway, through Rangtang and Aba. It will continue flowing to the upper Yellow River, and will cross over the Yellow River and flow into the Maqu Daguaiwan reservoir.
Previous proposals for the Western Line water diversion project, have generally recommended using natural (downhill) water flow to transport the water, so as to reduce the operating costs of water diversion. However, this would make the technical difficulty of the project very great. It would mean building highly elevated reservoirs, and excavating long, deep tunnels for the water to flow through. If we take a different perspective, and abandon the idea of natural water flow, instead using external electric power to pump the water, that extreme technical difficulty can be avoided, though the operating costs will of course be much greater. If we can bear those operating costs, then the plan described above is feasible. The difference between the Great Tongdao water project and most other water projects, is that the economic and social benefits to be reaped are far better. Most water projects take a long time to recoup the construction costs, or even never recoup them at all. In contrast, the Great Tongdao project has enormous meaning; in effect, it can turn Henan province, Shanxi province, Shaanxi province, Inner Mongolia, Ningxia province, Gansu province, and Anhui province into "coastal" provinces. At the same time, it will make Qinghai, Xinjiang, and Tibet take a giant step towards parity with central China, as if the "golden coastline" of Southeast China was extended all the way into the belly of the deep West. So the Datongdao project can pay back all the capital expenses of the entire project, it can compensate for all the damages caused, and it can pay for the high operating expenses of electric pumping. Therefore, there is no reason why this project cannot proceed by use of electric pumping for water transport, thus easily avoiding the difficulty of building elevated reservoirs and deep, long-distance tunnels. Besides, the enormous power generation capacity which the Yaluzangbu Daguaiwan power station will provide, will do much to relieve the strain on the existing power network.
If electric pumping is used all along the entire water diversion course, then when choosing the route to be taken, there is no need to worry about altitude and levelness, so a route which takes the pipes along a public highway will be simplest and most convenient for construction. The volume of the reservoirs and channels for diverted water will not be an issue for water delivery, so construction of reservoirs at the water inlets and outlets will not be required. In the high mountains and deep valleys of the Southwest, there will be no need to build dams or dig long, deep tunnels, and the need to build roads for transporting construction supplies into remote areas will be greatly alleviated. Basically, all the tricky technical parts of the Datongdao and Western Line projects will disappear. With no high-altitude reservoirs, no deep tunnels, and pipes and channels running along public highways, the quantity, difficulty, and expense of construction work will be slashed. The investment capital required to set up water pipes and channels, and the high operating expenses of pumping the water, can all be carried by the enormous economic and social dividends provided by marine shipping. The electric power generated will be seasonal, which is disadvantageous for any other use; but for water diversion, it's perfect. When the rivers are high, the hydroelectric power stations will produce at full capacity, just when the pumps for water diversion need the most power. When the rivers are at moderate level, the hydroelectric stations will generate a moderate amount of power, and the power consumption of the pumps will also be moderate. When the rivers are low, water will not be diverted. Any hydroelectric power generated during the low season, as well as any excess power during the high season, will be given to Tibet.
The great canyon of the Yaluzangbu Jiang forms a "U" shape toward the Northeast. The water reservoir which is to be built on the Yaluzangbu will be toward the end of one branch of the "U", at Paiqu town. That part of the canyon has yearly water flow of 68 billion cubic meters. The dam will be 50 meters high, and will pass 40 billion cubic meters through the generator turbines each year. The generator station itself will be located close to the other branch of the "U", will have a capacity of 35,000 megawatts, and will connect to the reservoir through a sloped tunnel 30 meters in diameter and several kilometers long. The top and bottom of the tunnel will have a 2.2 kilometer difference in elevation, and will pass enough water to generate 150 million megawatt-hours per year.
The power used for pumping the diverted water could be brought in from elsewhere, or could be transmitted from the Yaluzangbu power station. Ideally, the power generated from the diverted rivers would be used to cover the power needs of the whole diversion project, though this would increase the required investment and difficulty of construction. Even if it is deemed necessary to buy power from elsewhere, the economic benefits of the Datongdao project are still enough to pay for its operating expenses. Of course, if building the new power stations proves too difficult to do right away, the project could initially run on purchased electricity, and when the time is right, the Yabuzanglu power station could be built. Or, if China's level of engineering and construction expertise advances in the future, maybe converting the water diversion channels over to use natural water flow rather than pumps would become feasible.