AMUR-HEILONG RIVER BASIN

 

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"Joint Comprehensive Scheme on Amur and Argun Rivers
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In 1956-1962 China and Russia conducted cooperative research on the Amur River Basin for virtually every sector from agriculture to fisheries and from industrial development to wildlife management.  One of outputs dating from 1962 focused on water infrastructure and suggested development of a cascade of four reservoirs in the upper and middle Amur-Heilong with a total storage capacity of more than 250 km3 and a surface area of 6,000 km2.  The main benefits were said to be flood prevention and hydropower generation, and early consideration was given to the possibility of water transfer from the Amur-Heilong to the Nen River.  Environmental consequences were scarcely considered and ecological values were fully sacrificed to the development of an "unbreakable friendship".  In the 1960s relationships between the two countries deteriorated and this plan was never implemented.  Meanwhile, both countries proceeded aggressively with uncoordinated development of water resources of the Amur-Heilong within their national territories.

Bilateral relationships improved in 1986 and a new agreement was signed by China and the USSR to resume “Russia-China Joint Comprehensive Scheme for Water Development in Transboundary Waters of the Argun and Amur Rivers.”  Environmental issues were not high on the agenda when this planning exercise started.  The initial intent was to review development opportunities in hydropower, flood prevention, fisheries, and clean water supply.  China clearly prioritized hydropower and was thus inclined to avoid or dismiss any modifications that threatened electricity outputs.  This version of the Scheme proposed up to ten dams on the Amur-Heilong River and its tributaries, while the Argun River was to be developed in a large cascade.  It was agreed that three dam, the Khingansky, Dzhalindinsky and Amazarsky were more feasible than the other and were called "first-stage dams" (see Table below).  Implementation of this scheme would result in a radical alteration of hydrological and ecosystem processes throughout the basin.  The most notable effects include radical changes in sedimentation patterns in the Lower Amur, creation of an impenetrable barrier for migrating fish, and significant alteration of the wetland hydrological regime of the Amur-Heilong River valley downstream.  Russia and China failed to agree on many issues including dam height, location, reservoir volume and regime, mitigation of impact on fish stocks, and many other environmental issues.  They finally declined to approve the document, agreeing only on its 100-page synopsis ("Brief of Joint Comprehensive Scheme" 2000) with many points of disagreement listed in the text. 

Nevertheless all proposed dams on the main stem of the Amur-Heilong River are included in the official list of future hydropower construction sites featured on the web-sites associated with the China Ministry of Water Resources. Talks in September 2003 between Hegang Prefecture and Evreiskaya Autonomous Province resulted in a vague agreement to jointly promote construction of Khingansky-Taipinggou dam.  This might explain why Khingansky Dam was advertised as an attractive investment opportunity at an international exhibition in Japan in 2005 and was recommended for inclusion in the program for "Revitalization of Old Industrial Bases in North-East" to be subsidized by the central governmental of China (CAE 2007).  According to Hegang Water Resources Bureau, construction could begin immediately since investment funds are available and Russia has agreed to the plan.  In early 2007 Xinhua Hydroengineering Investment Company was authorized by the Ministry to expedite preparations for Khingansky-Taipinggou Dam construction.

Despite official silence in Russia, these projects may reemerge at any time.  in 2003 the Khingansky-Taipinggou Dam was considered the most promising by “Russia Energy,”  But given that no mention of Amur mainstream dams is found in the company's 2006 program and in 2007 its offshoot, “Russia Hydro” Company, pledged to NGOs to not include Amur main channel dams in its portfolio.

The most recent reemergence of Amur dam proposals in Russia occurred in 2004-2006 when “ZAO Sovintervod”, a hydro engineering company responsible for “Joint Comprehensive Scheme 2000”, was chosen by Amur Basin Water Management Authority to develop a new Comprehensive Strategy for Water Development and Protection in Amur River Basin for the period 2005-2015.  ZAO Sovintervod simply renovated the voluminous but outdated bi-lateral design materials and tried to adjust them to new socio-economic conditions.  In 2006 the Amur Basin Water Management Authority held a special technical review meeting and instructed ZAO Sovintervod to exclude dams from the main channel.

In 2007 the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources called on Russian Water Service to revive cooperation on water management and put “further implementation of Joint Comprehensive Scheme for Amur as the first line in the proposed cooperation agenda.

 

Table. Mainstream Transboundary Dams "Joint Comprehensive Scheme on Amur and Argun rivers” (1990-s) (Difference in figures in Russian version of the design shown in brackets)

 


River

#

Dam or
Hydropower
Plant

Location

Function

River flow at dam site
(m3/sec)

Normal water level
(m)

Reservoir Volume
(km3)

Power
capacity
(MW)

Annual production:
(million
kW·h)

Amur

1

Amazarsky/
Mohe

Amur-Heilong
Russia

power

902

400?
(Russia:390)

31.2?
(Russia:23.55)

2000?
(Russia:1500)

5800?
(Russia:4900)

2

Dzhalindinsky/
Lianyin

Amur-Heilong
Russia

power

1109

298?
(Russia:303)

5.7?
(Russia:7.86)

1000?
(Russia:600

3100?
(Russia:3000)

3

Tolbuzinsky/
Oupu

Amur-Heilong
Russia

power

1281

253

29.2
(Russia:4.97)

1600
(Russia:600

5100
(Russia:2450

4

Kuznetsovsky/
Huma

Amur-Heilong
Russia

power
water transfer

1327

191
(Russia:220

0.33
(Russia:3.58)

300
(Russia:500

1000
(Russia:2200

5

Heihe
(China plan)

Amur-Heilong
Russia
(China plan)

power, irrigation
water transfer

1597.5

165

14.5

1400

4100

5a

Novo-voskresenovsky (Russia plan)

Amur-Heilong
(Russia plan)

power

1345

191

0.35

200

950

6

Taipinggou

Amur-Heilong
Russia

power, water supply, flood prevention, irrigation

4903

83?
(84.4)?
(Russia:
single 80/
cascade 78)

1.74?
(2.17) ?
(Russia:1.14)

1800?
(Russia:1200)

7100?
(Russia:
single5800/
cascade6000)

Argun

7

Gorbunovsky

Amur-Heilong
Russia

power

153

495

2.4

50

220

8

Belogubovsky

Amur-Heilong
Russia

power

185

460

0.7

80

320

9

Cheremukhovsky

Amur-Heilong
Russia

power

266

430

0.23

70

250

Map collection:

Climate, waters and water management

 

Maps:

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)

 

Photo:

Amur river system

Water management

Water pollution

 

GIS: Amur hydrography, wetlands and water infrastructure

 

Hinggan Gorge a unique place trageted for dam development. Taipinggou nature reserve. (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 management and dams in China

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

 

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