Ten large dams on the mainstem of the Yellow River (plus over 3100 smaller reservoirs throughout the basin with a total storage capacity of over 58 billion m3) and a levee system confines the river for almost its entire length to the sea. These dams and diversions have dramatically reduced both water and sediment flows over the past 50 years, by about 5 fold measured at the mouth of the river, and seasonal peak flows have been almost entirely lost. Until recent years, the river frequently did not reach the sea. This situation has begun to change, due to the efforts of the Yellow River Conservancy Commission, a government agency of Ministry of Water Resources of the People’s Republic of China, and NHI’s partner in this project. The objective of the partnership is to explore the potential for more substantially improving the downstream environment and the fisheries in the Bohai Sea by reoperating the final reservoir, Xiaolangdi, which controls the flows to the sea. This can be done through augmenting Xiaolangdi’s storage by utilizing groundwater aquifers within some of the 100 irrigation districts served by the dam.
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