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Sand Washing Aims to Reduce Flood Risk in Yellow River

A fresh round of sand washing in the Yellow River started on Thursday as water was sluiced out in major reservoirs on the middle and lower reaches of the waterway in central China's Henan Province.

The on-going operation, the seventh since this technique was first used in 2002, works by discharging water from three reservoirs -- Wanjiazhai, Sanmenxia and Xiaolangdi -- to clear up the sediment in the river, the country's second-longest waterway. Speeding currents would carry tons of sand into the sea.

The 12-day project is expected to enable the water to flow at a maximum volume of 3,900 cubic meters per second in this section, according to the Yellow River water resources committee in Henan's capital.

The Yellow River has been plagued by an increasing amount of mud and sand. Each year, the river bed rises as silt deposits build up, slowing the water flow in the lower reaches.

Meanwhile, the provincial government has mapped out an emergency plan to address possible flooding in the Yellow River region. It urged the bolstering of dykes along the river to ensure that no dyke would burst, even if floods occurred as the water flow reached 22,000 cubic meters per second, the maximum discharge capacity, in the Huayuankou section.

The China Meteorological Administration warned this month that the river was likely to flood during this year's rainy season, which runs from July to October.

Rainfall was expected to increase by 20 percent to 50 percent in the section from Sanmenxia in the middle reaches to Huayuankou in the lower reaches, which is historically susceptible to rainstorms.

The 5,464-kilometer river originates on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and winds through eight provinces and autonomous regions before it pour into the Bohai Sea in the north.

(Xinhua News Agency June 20, 2008)

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