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The Xiaolangdi Water Control Project

Xiaolangdi Water Conservancy Project is 40 kilometers north of Luoyang City in Henan Province, and south of Jiyuan City on the Yellow River. It is 130 kilometers from the Sanmen Gorge and 128 kilometers from Zhengzhou, capital of Henan Province. The project, with its huge reservoir, is the only control project in the section lower than Sanmen Gorge.

After founding New China in 1949, Party and state leaders paid great attention to the security of the Yellow River. In October 1952, Chairman Mao Zedong issued a call to control the Yellow River after an inspection visit. In the 1960s, Comrade Deng Xiaoping inspected the Yellow River and Sanmen Gorge Reservoir three times. In the 1990s General Secretary Jiang Zemin wrote an inscription for the project: "Turn the harmful Yellow River into a beneficial river for the Chinese nation."

As early as in 1954 Xiaolangdi project was included in a national plan to comprehensively harness and develop the river. In February 1987, the State Planning Commission listed the project as a water conservancy project. On April 9, 1991, the project was approved at the Fourth Session of the Seventh National People's Congress and was listed as one of the key projects for construction during the Eighth Five-Year Plan period.

The aim of the project is first to control floods, reduce the danger of ice runs and decrease silt. It will also supply water, irrigate farmland and generate power.

It is one of the most complicated projects in the world, as agreed by foreign and Chinese experts.

Engineering work on the main part involves moving 21.22 million cubic meters of earth and stone and pouring 530,000 cubic meters of concrete. Such a scale is only next to the Three Gorges Project. Construction will take 11 years: three years for preparation and eight years for the construction of the main part of the project.

The project needs an investment of 40 billion yuan and in April 1994, the Board of Directors of the World Bank approved an application for a loan. One billion US dollars in foreign funds will be used, and the project is the largest in China to use World Bank funds.

The main parts of the project are the dam, the flood discharge project and a power station, which call for a total investment of 20 billion yuan. These three projects have been the subject of international competitive bidding, which by August 31, 1993, had attracted 34 companies from nine countries. The Yellow River Contracted Integrated Group, Sino-German-Italian Integrated Group and Xiaolangdi Integrated Group were successful. Their liable companies are the Italian Impregilo Co., the Sping Co. of Germany and Dumez Co. from France. On July 16, 1994, the contracts were signed in Beijing with an agreed contractual price of 7.3 billion yuan.

The masonry dam is 1,317 meters long and 154 meters high. It has 10 intake towers, nine flood and sand discharge tunnels, six power generation tunnels and an underground powerhouse. After completion the highest water level of the reservoir will be 275 meters above sea level. The reservoir will have a storage capacity of 12.65 billion cubic meters and a long-term effective capacity of 5.1 billion cubic meters. It brings 694,000 square kilometers of drainage area under control, or 92.3 percent of the total Yellow River basin. As a result, the likelihood of flooding in the lower reaches of the river will reduce from once every 60 years to once every 1,000 years. The danger of ice run will be basically eliminated and the riverbed in the lower reaches will remain the same for 20 years. The reservoir will have a capacity to take up 2 billion cubic meters of water from melted ice and eliminate the threat of ice run on the middle reaches of the river. It will increase the water supply to the lower reaches by 2.16 billion cubic meters a year. Also the reservoir will increase the acreage of farmland under irrigation from 739,000 hectares to 1.52 million hectares. The power station will have six 300,000-KW mixed flow water turbine generating units with a total installed generating capacity of 1.8 million KW. In the early years of operation the power station will generate 5 billion KWH annually. The figure could increase to 6 billion KWH later.

The early period of construction of the Xiaolangdi project started in September 1991.

On September 12, 1994 former premier, Li Peng, announced the start of the construction of the main part of the project, the largest project for harnessing the Yellow River this century.

On October 18, 1997, the plans for blocking the river were examined and approved by the State Planning Commission. On October 21, Li Peng presided at a meeting where reports from the State Planning Commission and the Ministry of Water Resources on the preparatory work on blocking the river flow were approved, and the project for blocking the flow was accepted. At 10:28 a.m. October 28, 1997, the river was successfully blocked. Premier Li Peng attended the ceremony to mark the occasion and delivered a speech expressing his congratulations on behalf of the Central Committee of the Chinese Communist Party and the State Council.

According to the construction plan, two generating units will be operating in 2000, and the whole project is expected to be completed by 2001.


In total, 174 administrative villages and 787 industrial and mining enterprises in eight counties and cities of Jiyuan, Mengjin, Xin'an, Mianchi and Shaxian in Henan Province and Yuanqu, Xiaxian and Pinglu in Shanxi Province will be submerged. According to a second check in 1994, the reservoir will submerge 27,787 hectares of land (including 13,380 hectares of farmland, 2,193 hectares of forests and 1,767 hectares of parkland), 1,022.4 kilometers of highways, 917.3 kilometers of high-voltage electrical wire, 777.6 kilometers of telecommunications wire, 893.4 kilometers of broadcasting wire and 109 cultural and historical sites. A total of 188,000 people have to be resettled, the second largest resettlement project in the country next to the Three Gorges Water Conservancy Project. There will be three stages in moving the local people and they are related to the blocking off of the river, the initial operation of the reservoir and the normal operation of the reservoir. Resettled people will be encouraged to use their own initiative.

The first stage in resettlement started early in 1995 and involved 46,000 people from Xin'an, Mengjin and Jiyuan counties in Henan Province; it ended in July 1997. By the end of 1997, a total of 1.258 billion yuan had been spent on resettlement. In total, 1.16 million square meters of housing and 33 resettlement villages were built and 3,000 hectares of land were earmarked for production and subsistence. In addition, Yima Thermal Power Station, Mengzhou Kangdaer Fodder Co. and other enterprises were established and 3,340 people were employed. In January 1998, the results of the first-stage resettlement program were examined and approved by the central government.

The second-stage of resettlement started in 1997 and a total of 119,000 people were involved (83,000 from Henan Province and 36,000 from Shanxi Province). On average 30,000 people a year will be moved, and this stage is expected to end in 2000.

In the third stage of resettlement, 23,000 people will be moved (17,000 from Henan Province and 6,000 from Shanxi Province), and this stage is expected to be completed in 2005.

The Xiaolangdi Key Water Conservancy Project has set eight world records and six national records.

World Records:

--As a multi-purpose project in flood prevention designed to decrease the danger of ice run and increase water supply, irrigation and power generation, the project will meet the strictest demands in the world (up to 1997).

--The project has the greatest numbers of underground tunnels for a hydropower dam.

--The project has the largest and most complicated intake tower for floodwater discharge system in the world.

--Its intake tunnel is equipped with multi-step hole plates, which will eliminate energy and the tunnel, will turn into a flood-discharging tunnel. The tunnel is the largest in the world (up to 1997).

--The energy reducing pond structure at the water outlet is 356 meters wide. The length at its bottom is 210 meters. The pond will slow water flow from the nine outlets and a spillway. The pond is the largest of its kind in the world (up to 1997).

--During the project a total of 1,300 pre-stressed cables with a tension of 800-3,000 KN were installed, the first project with such a structure both at home and abroad.

--Standing on clay like arenaceous rock, the underground powerhouse is the largest of its kind in the world.

--The hydropower turbines are advanced in design and their manufacture incorporated wear resistance and other protective technologies.

National Records:

--The project will bring the best benefits in many ways to the country and is built mainly for controlling floods, ice runs and silting up. It combines water supply, irrigation with power generation.

--The largest masonry dam in the country. The masonry dam is 154 meters high, 1,300 meters long and 15 meters wide at the top. The dam's construction involved moving 50 million cubic meters of earth, the greatest amount for any dam in the country.

--The deepest leakage prevention wall in the country. The wall is 440 meters long and 1.2 meters thick with the deepest section 80 meters underground.

--The largest underground powerhouse in the country. The powerhouse is 251 meters long and 61 meters high with a span of 26 meters.

--The first in the country to use tower belt machines in concrete pouring.

--The first in the country to carry out environmental supervision and management during construction.

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