Sino-Dutch project launched in China to monitor the Yellow River basin in a bid to assist flood control along the river’s course and allow its resource to be used more wisely. Huang Ziqiang, vice-commissioner of the Yellow River Conservation Commission, said satellites will be used to create a water monitoring and flow forecasting system that can keep tabs on the basin, especially at its source.
“It is urgent for China to improve the existing monitoring of water resources and optimize the river’s limited water resource as it is plagued by worsening water shortages and droughts, which consequently leads to the degradation of the environment,” Huang said during a ceremony to launch the project. The system is expected to be fully operational within the next two years. Upon completion, it will be capable of monitoring conditions across 140,000 square kilometres by using the data collected by satellites.
Niu Yuguo, an official with the conservation commission, said after extending the project, water authorities will be able to monitor water quality, desertification, the growth of forests, vegetation and upstream soil moisture. Andries Rosema, director of the Netherlands-based EARS Remote Sensing Consultants, one of the three companies involved in the project, said: “I’m proud that, in co-operation with China, an operational system using satellites has been developed to monitor runoff.”
Rosema said he believed that with the technology, the Sino-Dutch project can make a significant contribution to the successful management of the precious resource and landscape. China has worked hard to use the river’s water effectively and rationally, which requires the accurate monitoring of runoff and being able to predict droughts.
Over the past decades, the river’s downstream has run dry several times as over half of its annual natural runoff has been consumed during the rapid economic development of areas along its course. Worsening water shortages have not only restricted further economic growth and the lives of millions of people living alongside the mighty river, but had a negative effect on the environment, experts say.