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Dujiangyan Irrigation System

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Introdution
The Dujiangyan is an ancient irrigation system in Dujiangyan City, Sichuan, China. Originally constructed around 256 BC by the State of Qin as an irrigation and flood control project, it is still in use today. The system's infrastructure is on the Min River (Minjiang), the longest tributary of the Yangtze. The area is in the west part of the Chengdu Plain, at the confluence between the Sichuan basin and the Tibetan plateau. 

Originally the Min rushed down from the Min Mountains, but slowed abruptly after reaching the Chengdu Plain, filling the watercourse with silt, which made the nearby areas extremely prone to floods. Li Bing, then governor of Shu for the state of Qin, and his son headed the construction of the Dujiangyan, which harnessed the river using a new method of channeling and dividing the water rather than simply following the old way of dam building. 

It is still in use today to irrigate over 5,300 square kilometres (2,000 sq mi) of land in the region. The Dujiangyan, the Zhengguo Canal in Shaanxi and the Lingqu Canal in Guangxi are collectively known as the "three great hydraulic engineering projects of the Qin."

History & Background
Planning
During the Warring States period, people who lived along the banks of the Min River were plagued by annual flooding. Qin governor, irrigation engineer, and hydrologist Li Bing investigated the problem and discovered that the river was swelled by fast flowing spring melt-water from the local mountains that burst the banks when it reached the slow moving and heavily silted stretch below.

One solution would have been to build a dam but Li Bing had also been charged with keeping the waterway open for military vessels to supply troops on the frontier, so instead he proposed to construct an artificial levee to redirect a portion of the river's flow and then to cut a channel through Mount Yulei to discharge the excess water upon the dry Chengdu Plain beyond.

Construction
Li Bing received 100,000 taels of silver for the project from King Zhao of Qin and set to work with a team said to number tens of thousands. The levee was constructed from long sausage-shaped baskets of woven bamboo filled with stones known as Zhulong held in place by wooden tripods known as Macha. The construction of a water-diversion levee resembling a fish's mouth took four years to complete.

Cutting the channel proved to be a far greater problem, as the tools available to Li Bing at the time, before gunpowder was invented, could not penetrate the hard rock of the mountain, so he used a combination of fire and water to heat and cool the rocks until they cracked and could be removed. After eight years of work, a 20-metre-wide (66 ft) channel had been gouged through the mountain.

Legacy
After the system was finished, no more floods occurred. The irrigation made Sichuan the most productive agricultural place in China. On the east side of Dujiangyan, people built a shrine in remembrance of Li Bing.

Li Bing’s construction is also credited with giving the people of the region a laid-back attitude to life; by eliminating disaster and ensuring a regular and bountiful harvest, it has left them with plenty of free time.

Today, Dujiangyan has become a major tourist attraction. It is also admired by scientists from around the world, because of one feature. Unlike contemporary dams where the water is blocked with a huge wall, Dujiangyan still lets water go through naturally. Modern dams do not let fish go through very well, since each dam is a wall and the water levels are different. In 2000, Dujiangyan became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

2008 Sichuan earthquake
On May 12, 2008 a massive earthquake struck the Dujiangyan area. Initial reports indicated that the Yuzui Levee was cracked but not severely damaged. Diversion of flow could still be seen as the river turns.

Function & Layout
Dujiangyan Irrigation Project is a great project with much top fame in the world. Firstly, it is the oldest Irrigation Project in the world with a history of 2268 years. Secondly, it is the only existing irrigation project without dam but can divert water for irrigation automatically. It does not stop the water but lead the water; it does not change the nature but obey the nature. Thirdly, it is an Irrigation Project with the most scientific design and reasonable composition. The head part of Dujiangyan was formed by three main parts: Yuzui Dividing Dyke, Feishayan Spillway, and Baopingkou Water Inlet. The perfect combination of the three parts has continued the service of Dujiangyan Irrigation Project for thousands of years. 

This scenic area consists of three parts: the first is Lidui Ancient Park; the second is Irrigation Project; and the last is Er Wang Temple. Lidui Ancient Park covers an area of 80mu. It was a private garden strictly for rich and powerful families. It was finally opened to the public in 1931. Dujiangyan and Mt. Qingcheng were added to the list of the world cultural heritage by UNESCO in Nov. 2000. In 2005, as a part of the habitat of Giant Panda, Dujiangyan was added to the list of world natural heritage.

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Highlight
The Dujiangyan Region has a beautiful landscape and many cultural relics and historical sites, including the Fulong Temple, Erwang Temple, and the trail bridge. All of these, plus moving legends have exerted a great attraction for both domestic and overseas tourists.

The tourist site of Mount Qingcheng and the Dujiangyan Irrigation System was listed by the United Nations Heritage Commission as one of the World's Cultural Heritage on November 29, 2000.

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