All chapters:



Waters and water management

Ecosystems and ecoregions

Species diversity and use of biological resources

Nature conservation: econet and protected areas

Countries & cultures


Land use

International policy

Waters and water management

Water management and dams in China
Related maps, pictures, links

Energy and water are security issues in China. China has been able to support 20 percent of the world's population on only 7 percent of the Earth's arable land and less than one fourth of the average global per capita allotment of water. Lack of adequate water supply will be a major impediment to the country's social and economic development over the next 30 years.
Hydroelectricity is extremely important for China's booming economy.  While hydropower provides a cleaner alternative to the disease and pollution caused by coal, large scale hydropower development disrupts natural ecosystems and river-dependent local economies. China's hydroelectric power capacity reached 115 million kilowatts by year-end 2005). Power projects with a total installed capacity of 45,874 MW were approved between August and December 2005, and almost half of these were hydropower.  These figures demonstrate the extent of China’s commitment to hydropower for the future.

Although the Amur-Heilong river is the longest undammed river in the Eastern Hemisphere, in China, the basin has abundant water resources, all subject to intensive management.  The basin has been explored for hydropower feasibility since the 1930s with the first large dam of the basin, the Xiao Fengman Dam, completed by 1940.  Practically all townships have reservoirs, typically small ones used for municipal and agricultural water supply, and other supplementary uses such as aquaculture and recreation.  Plains also have networks of irrigation canals to supply expanding production of rice and other cereals, and fishponds.  Large reservoirs are built in the mountain areas and their primary uses are hydropower generation and flood control, the latter emerging as a major concern following the catastrophic floods of 1998. 
In 2005, the Songhua Pollution Prevention Project reported more than 13,000 “storage works” (i.e reservoirs and ponds) with a total of 35 km3 storage capacity in the Songhua basin alone.
Several reservoirs have already been built on the main tributaries of the Amur-Heilong basin (Xiao Fengman and Baishan Reservoirs on the Second Songhua River, Charsen Reservoir on the Tao’er River, Lianhua on the Mudan River and Ni'erji on the Nen River).  Several smaller reservoirs were also built in wetlands, many of which store water for irrigation schemes such as Xianghai Reservoir on the Tao’er River, Dongsheng Reservoir on the Wuyu’er River system, and Nanyin Reservoir at Pangtou Pond.  All of these are located within or near Ramsar listed wetlands (see Map om wetlands and on water infrastructure)
In 2003 the Ministry of Water Resources reported that, by 2005, potential hydropower generation capacity in the northeast would already be 40 percent exploited.  This is a substantial portion of the total capacity, particularly given that environmental concerns are not accounted for in these engineering calculations.  Since approximately half of the promising large dams sites are found only on the Amur-Heilong main channel, the hydropower development community in China will certainly strive to exploit this opportunity.  These reservoirs might also enable subsequent water transfers to the Nen River basin and to the Liao River basin further south, where water shortage is already severe. 

Map collection:

Climate, waters and water management



Simplified hydrography of Amur River basin (Basemap)

Detailed hydrography of Amur River basin

Wetlands of Amur

Water infrastructure: dams and water transfers

PDF document: Songhua River pollution maps in PDF (ADB 2005)



Amur river system

Water management

Water pollution


GIS: Amur hydrography, wetlands and water infrastructure


Xiaofengman dam in Jilin city - the first large hydropower plant built in Amur Basin by 1940 (Photo by E.Simonov.)


Also look:

Western rivers of headwaters of Amur-Heilong River Basin

Eastern tributaries in Amur-Heilong River Basin

Lakes and reservoirs of Amur-Heilong River Basin

Lakes of Western Amur-Heilong River Basin

Lakes of Eastern Amur-Heilong River Basin

River between –environmental perspective on Amur water management

Water infrastructure in the Amur-Heilong River Basin

Dam development in Russia

Water Transfers in China

Water transfers and wells in Mongolia

Development of dykes

Case Study on international planning: "Joint Comprehensive Scheme on Amur and Argun Rivers"

Is there enough water?

WCD lessons for Amur

Water pollution conundrum


Full contents
Full digest
Full atlas
All pictures