Located at the mountainous watershed of Minjiang River in the northwest of Chengdu Plain, Dujiangyan City is the only water conservation place for the Chengdu Plain. The dujiangyan dam, 45km north of chengdu, is an ancient technological wonder of the country. Under the guidance of Li Bing, the Governor of Shu Prefecture of the Qin State, the local people built the water conservancy project —– the Dujiangyan Irrigation System 2263 years ago, which prevents Chengdu Plain from flood. For many years the river flooded the chengdu agricultural area and local farmers suffered a lot from the water disaster. Due to the success of the project, the dam automatically diverts the mingjiang river and channels it into irrigation canals. For many years the dam has continued to play the key role of the water conservancy works.
The system is a large hydraulic water project, which consists of three main parts: the fish mouth water-dividing dam, the flying sand fence, and the bottle-neck channel.
The fish mouth functions to divide the flow of water into an inner river and an outer river. Long long ago, when li bing worked as the local governor of the shu state, he found the old river canal was too narrow to hold much water, which often overflowed the banks and caused disastrous flood. Based on natural geographic conditions, he organized the people to build a man-made dam. The whole dam looks like a fish, and the front dam has a circular cone shaped like a fish mouth. It is the dam that channels water into an outer canal and an inner canal. The outer water canal functions as the main stream and holds sixty percent of water in the river. The extra water goes through the inner canal for irrigation in chengdu areas.
The flying sand fence joins the inner and outer canals. The fence functions to controll the flow of water and discharge excess into the inner canal from the main stream. During the dry season the fence doesn’t work much, but when floods occur, the river rushes forward along the outer canal. As it approaches the fence, the river begins to turn round fast and soon many whirlpools are formed. The volatile whirlpools sweep away sand and pebbles and throw them into the outer canal. For many years huge bamboo baskets were used as the fence. They were filled with stones and pebbles. However, at present, reinforced concrete weir has replaced the ancient fence.
Chengdu looks like a large bottle and the trunk canal between the mountain and the hill takes shape of the bottleneck. The trunk canal technically has two functions: First, it leads the water to irrigate the farming land in western sichuan; secondly, the trunk canal works together with the flying sand weir to keep the flow below a certain point in the inner canal during flood season. For over two thousand years, in fact, the fish mouth water-dividing Dam, the flying sand weir, and the bottle-neck channel automatically work together to sweep away sand and stones in the main stram. The local people benefit a lot from this project.
Not far from the dujiang dam, a daoist temple complex was erected to commemorate the benevolent ruler of li bing and his son who succeeded him. Li bing and his son were granted the posthumous title of wang. The folk story says that july 24of the chinese lunar calendar is li bing’ birthday. On the day many local people visit the temple where they prostrate themselges before the image of li bing and his son and burn incense to pay honor to them. The temple which is built near the mountaintop, is a popular place for sightseers. There one can enjoy a unique view of the most modern parts of the water conservation project.