China’s Incredible 2000 Year Old Irrigation System // This is China

China’s Incredible 2000 Year Old Irrigation System // This is China


This is China and this is the Dujiangyan irrigation system. Built in 256 BC it’s the oldest surviving water management scheme. I gotta figure out how make my tit look smaller. Does it look big? So, I’m on the Minjiang it’s a 735 kilometer river. It starts way up in the Tibetan Plateau – somewhere up in the mountains over here probably, and it comes down the Min Mountains and picks up some speed and then it hits the Sichuan Basin right around this area. Because of the speed at which the water would be moving when it came down the mountain the water would sometimes flood the area so they decided they needed to figure out a way to stop that. At the time, the area was going through war. They needed to be able to move ships to deliver supplies so they didn’t want to build a dam, so the governor at the time – his name was Li Bing – he studied the river and he came up with this plan to build this levee. Okay, let’s see if we can figure out how this works. So the water comes from the north down here, it hits this levee and it gets divided up. Originally, this was made out of bamboo there were bamboo baskets that were like sausages. They stuffed them with rocks. Right here in front of this sad Panda is the bamboo baskets with the rocks in it. This is how the levee was constructed originally. The water gets divided up between the inner and the outer streams. The inner, which is coming up over here, it’s deeper more narrow but it moves faster. And the outer, which is over in that direction, it is wider but it’s shallow and actually right now there’s not hardly any water in it at all, but they’re controlling the water that’s going into it. They’ve added some additions here some, modern additions that’s controlling the water a bit more. The shallowness of this side is to allow the sediment to be flushed out. Okay let’s go further south and see what happens to the water after it gets split off. So, this is a southern end, and as you can see it’s pretty dry. It’s very dry. So where’d all that water go? Well, it’s being blocked off by this thing, which is in modern addition. The water is being redirected to provide water for farm fields. So this is bottleneck channel. This is the start of the irrigation system – the water – all the water that’s being redirected here – this was never – there was never a channel here. It’s really the most impressive part of the whole process because to get this water to go through here they had to blow through this mountain. This is – I guess it’s called Mount Yulei This was back, like over 2000 years ago when they didn’t have gunpowder so they couldn’t just dynamite their way through it they had to literally like set fires and cool it down with water, set fires and cool it down with water, and keep putting pressure on the rock until it cracked, and then they were just remove the boulder. But that process it took about eight years, to do, to clear out this area and to free the water through. It – it’s pretty crazy. Alright, I’m going to wrap this video up here as we’re waiting for some wantons to show up. Obviously, it was a huge success. The water here is spread out across Sichuan province. It actually covers 5,300 square kilometres so it’s a huge area that it irrigates and it helped Sichuan become one of the most agriculturally productive places in all of China. Somebody’s watching me, staring at me, and I don’t like it. Oh, what’s the difference? She spat in mine. The system is, like, it’s lasted all this time, so it’s pretty incredible. The Japanese were actually told to bomb it and they couldn’t find it – they couldn’t figure out what they were supposed to bomb because I think they assumed there’d be a dam, and it survived a REALLY big earthquake – I think it was a solid two minutes of ground shaking – they felt it all the way in Shanghai, so it was a big massive earthquake. And of course it survived time, which is kind of the most craziest thing of all. Unlike you. Just like me? What? Unlike you. Unlike me… Those sesames [inaudible grumblings]. Ok, I’m out.

13 thoughts on “China’s Incredible 2000 Year Old Irrigation System // This is China

  1. Why this river isn't fierce and thus can not demonstrate vividly how this system works anymore is because there is a big high dam build just 1 hour drive away into the mountain. if you see the height of the dam, people will get a sense why this irrigation system is needed. Zipingpu dam (紫坪铺水坝)https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=67isxB5Tlvw in this video I think it only shows the inner side of the dam because I assure you when i see it myself the outside is easily more than 100 meters high and much narrower and deep for the outer side. this is a controvisial dam, locals outside chengdu doesn't know about it. but it is impressive

  2. This may be the only man made irrigation/flood control system in the world built two thousand years ago and still in operation. We are talking about a river water manage system that has bought benefit to a piece of West Europe size territory for two millenniums. China engineering is amazing. The more you know China, the more you respect China.

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