Qimenyan Irrigation System
2024-03-01 14:08

First built in the early Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 25) over 2,200 years ago, Qimenyan Irrigation System is situated in the middle reaches of the Hangbu River in Shucheng County of Anhui Province. In November 2023, Qimenyan Irrigation System was inscribed into the World Irrigation Project Heritage List.

Sitting in the transitional zone between the Yangtze River and Huaihe River, Shucheng County features a unique hilly wetland terrain and boasts of tens of thousands of ponds and polders, storing over 80 million m3 of water. Based on its early construction in the Western Han Dynasty, several major renovations and dredgings have been made in the Eastern Han Dynasty (25 - 220) and the Ming Dynasty (1368 - 1644), after which Qimenyan Irrigation System took shape. The System takes advantage of the wetland terrain by connecting 15 major ponds to form main canals, and dredging ponds, polders and ditches to store excessive rainfall during flood season. Qimenyan Irrigation System exemplifies a hydraulic planning concept well ahead of its times. It makes full use of water surge from Hangbu River out of the valley and the natural topography of the northeastern extension of the Dabie Mountain. Thanks to this ingenious engineering concept, a large-scale gravity irrigation system was made a reality, with its waterway rationally designed and strategically positioned between the Huaihe River and the Yangtze River, stretching from southwest to northeast and traversing Shucheng County.

Through effective water diversion, storage and distribution, the System has increased grain production and relieved natural disasters, playing a pivotal role in social and economic development of Shucheng County. After the founding of the People’s Republic of China, the Government of Shucheng County connected the Qimenyan irrigation area with the Hangbei main canal, giving birth to the Hangbu River irrigation area. In 1950s, water intake was relocated 2 km upstream due to deteriorating water diversion conditions, and the 5-kilometer-long diversion canal excavated along the mountain is still in use today. With a total irrigation area of 12,700 hectares, it adopts nature-based regulating and storage technologies as well as holistic and rational management approaches, bringing 2,000 years of economic prosperity, social stability and cultural prosperity to the region.