DRH-Asia: Disaster Reduction Hyperbase
(by Google translation. Translation will be reset by reloading.)

1. Title

Dujiangyan Project

ID: DRH 44 Flying Sand Fence.
Hazard: Flood , Drought

Transferable indigenous knowledge (TIK)

Proposer: Weihua FANG
Country: CHINA;
Date posted: 29 December 2008
Date published: 16 March 2009
Copyright © 2009 Weihua FANG (proposer). All rights reserved.

Flying Sand Fence.


Weihua FANG, Xingchun ZHONG, Fei HE, Hong XU
Position : Associate Professor
Affiliation: Academy of Disaster Reduction and Emergency Management, MOCA & MOE, China; Beijing Normal University
Address: No. 19 Xinjiekouwai Avenue, Haidian District, Beijing, 100875, China.
E-mail: fang@ires.cn
Tel: 86-10-58802283
Fax: 86-10-58802158

2. Major significance / Summary

Dujiangyan Project, which consists of Fish Mouth Water-dividing Dam, Flying Sand Fence and Bottle-Neck Channel, is a hydraulic engineering with a history more than 2000 years. It is still being used today for flood disaster prevention, sediment control and irrigation. Its completion changed Chengdu Plain from a disaster-prone area to affluent area honored as “The Land of Abundance”

3. Keywords

Dujiangyan, Drought, Flood, Sediment control, Irrigation

II. Categories

4. Focus of this information

Transferable indigenous knowledge (TIK)

5. Users

5-1. Anticipated users: Community leaders (voluntary base) , Administrative officers , Municipalities , National governments and other intermediate government bodies (state, prefecture, district, etc.) , International organizations (UN organizations and programmes, WB, ADRC, EC, etc.) , Experts , Teachers and educators , Architects and engineers

5-2. Other users: Motivated researchers

6. Hazards focused

Flood , Drought

7. Elements at risk

Human lives , Infrastructure , River banks and fluvial basin , Agricultural lands

III. Contact Information

8. Proposer(s) information (Writer of this template)

Weihua FANG, Xingchun ZHONG, Fei HE, Hong XU
Position : Associate Professor
Affiliation: Academy of Disaster Reduction and Emergency Management, MOCA & MOE, China; Beijing Normal University
Address: No. 19 Xinjiekouwai Avenue, Haidian District, Beijing, 100875, China.
E-mail: fang@ires.cn
Tel: 86-10-58802283
Fax: 86-10-58802158

9. Country(ies)/region(s) where the technology/knowledge/practice originated


At 30°58′56″N, 111°25′10″E; 45km north of Chengdu, in Sichuan Province, Southwest of China.

10. Names and institutions of technology/knowledge developers

Li Bing, who lived in the 3rd century BC, organized local people with his son to build Dujiangyan hydraulic engineering during he served as the procurator of Shu State (Sichuan province today).

11. Title of relevant projects if any

12. References and publications

1. Guo Wentao. Drought Principles and Historical Experience of Drought Prevention in Shangqiu Areas. History of Chinese Agriculture. 1993,12(1):93-104
2. Li Keke, Li Peihong. Dujiangyan - Great Achievement of Chinese Trditional Hydraulic Culture. China Water Resources, 2004, 18:75-78.
3. Si Maqian, SHIJI (historical records), 91 B.C.
4. Shouyi BAI (eds.), General history of China, 2004, Shanghai People’s Press.
5. Su Renqiong, Yang Qinye.Treatment Policy to Comprehensively Harness the Disaster Environment in the Yellow River Basin. Yellow River, 1996,11:16-20
6. Wang Wenkai, Wang Chao, Liu Airong. Disaster Reduction in China, 1999,9(2):19-22.
7. Xiao Kaiqian. Flooding Disasters and Prevention Strategies in Dujiangyan Irrigation Regions of the Outer River. Sichuan Water Resources, 1998, 3:26-29
8. Xiong Dacheng. Summaries of Sediment Control Theory and Experience of Dujiangyan Project. Chengdu Water Resources, 1998, 3:29-39.
9. Zhao Ji, Geography of China, 2001, Higher Education Press.
10. Zhao Shuling. Study the Disasters in the Yellow River Reach from the Historical Perspectives. Journal of North China Institute of Water conservancy and Hydroelectric Power (Social Science), 2002, 18(1):51-54.
11. Zhang Jiacheng. Scientific Thought of Water Controlling in Ancient China. Advances in Water Science, 1996, 7(2):158-162.
12. Zhong Deyu, Zhang Hongwu. Extended 2-D Numerical Model for Alluvial River Considering Transverse Transport of Sediment and Bank Erosion due to Secondary Flow in River Bends. Journal of Hydraulic Engineering, 2004, 7:14-20.
13. http://it.chinahw.net/homepage/2006/baman/homepage/08xinjiang/01xinjiang/01.htm
14. http://www.travelchinaguide.com/attraction/xinjiang/turpan/karez.htm
15. http://blog.cersp.com/2005/11/06/165519.jpg
16. http://www.cdbot.chengdu.gov.cn
17. http://www.dujiangyan.com.cn
18. http://www.djy.gov.cn
19. http://www.cs.iastate.edu
20. http://www.17u.com/destination/s_detail_1731.html

13. Note on ownership if any

IV. Background

14. Disaster events and/or societal circumstances, which became the driving force either for developing the technology/knowledge or enhancing its practice

Dujiangyan Region is a transition belt from Tibetan Plateau to Chengdu Plain. It is a high risk region of earthquakes. Broken rock layers and alternating mountains and valleys lead to high complexity of topography. Subtropical zone humid climate in this region brings annual average rainfall of 1244mm, 70% of which comes from June to September. Strong rainstorms together with the complex topography can easily lead to disasters, such as landslides, debris flows and floods.

During Summer and Autumn, especially after a rainstorm, feculent water with mixed sand and stones in the Minjiang River often surges and rushes out from the mountain areas. According to data since 1936, mean annual discharge of Minjiang River at Dujiangyan is 500m3/s and historically maximum discharge is 7700 m3/s. The annual total flow reaches 15 billion m3.

V. Description

15. Feature and attribute

Flood prevention, drought reduction and sediment control are the three major aims of the system. To achieve these aims, three complementary sub-projects are built and serve as an integrated systematic engineering.


1. Fish Mouth Water-Dividing Dam (Yu Zui in Chinese) was built to divide the Minjiang River into inner and outer river. The outer river is wider and functions as the main stream to discharge floods, while the inner one is deeper and diverts water to Chengdu Plain for irrigation.

2. Flying Sand Fence (Fei Sha Yan in Chinese) was built to keep runoff for irrigation stable. When water in the inner river exceeded its demand, the extra water could run over the Fence. It looks like an arc and this makes the inner channel little curved. The arc-shaped fence and channel can make sand and pebbles thrown back into the outer river together with the extra water. Roundabout Flow Theory was perfectly applied in this project.


3. Bottle-Neck Channel (Bao Ping Kou in Chinese) is a long and narrow canal dug through the Yuleishan Mountain which stops Minjiang River flowing eastward. This canal leads intake water from Inner River into Chengdu Plain to irrigate tens of thousands of hectares farmland.  


16. Necessary process to implement

1. A dam should be built in the center of the river to divide the water.

2. A canal should be dug through the impediment hill to lead the water to where it is needed.

3. A spillway with a fence whose height is apposite should be built near the access of canal to make the water for irrigation stable and control the sediment.

17. Strength and limitations

Dujiangyan fully used the local topography that northwest was higher and southeast was lower. Water of Minjiang River is automatically converted and channeled into the irrigation canal. No extra power is needed besides the gravity. Dujiangyan Project has been designed and constructed to cope with both floods and draughts.

As a hydro junction, it has done great contribution on flood prevention, irrigation and shipping for over 2260 years. It has also supplied water of productive and living use for people in Chengdu Plain.

However, its dependency on the topography also becomes the limitation that makes the engineering irreproducible.

The scale issue is also a limitation of this TIK. Consider the three sub-projects separatedly (A dam, a fence and a channel), each of them might just be an ordinary project. However, lacking any of them, the project will be much less effective than it is now. This means the function of the project is more than simply adding the function of its sub-projects. It is almost impossible to apply the whole project at smaller scale. However, the sub-project could be applied at a proper place to serve certain function, such as building a canal to split stream and lead water or building a fence to keep runoff stable.

18. Lessons learned through implementation if any

1. Site selection

The site selection of Dujiangyan Project took full account of natural environment, such as river depth and channel camber, and human technology, which made the Project a coordinated water management system. We should consider and fully use the natural conditions of a specific region when we design a project.

2. Simple Materials.

Dams and other structures of Dujiangyan Project are mainly constructed using pebbles, stones and bamboos. Sources of these simple materials are close to Dujiangyan Project. Pebbles and stones are easy to be collected from the river bed and banks. Bamboos are widely distributed in Dujiangyan Region, which are made to baskets to fill with pebbles and stones.

VI. Resources required

19. Facilities and equipments required

When Dujiangyan was firstly being built, iron tools was used to dig mountain. Fire was also used to burn the rocks to crack. Cages made by bamboo and filled with rocks and cobble stones were used to build the dam in the center of river.

Nowadays, such antique facilities and equipments can be replaced by modern facilities and equipments such as excavator, dynamite, concrete and so forth.

20. Costs, organization, manpower, etc.

To complete Dujiangyan hydraulic engineering, thousands of local people were organized to work many years. This is due to the backward facilities and equipments at that time. Building such a project would be much easier today but would still cost highly.

VII. Message from the proposer if any

21. Message

VIII. Self evaluation in relation to applicability

22. How do you evaluate the technology/knowledge that you have proposed?

It is a technology/knowledge that Others

This project has been used for more than 2000 years and is still being used effectively. It could not be totally duplicated anywhere due to the special prerequisites. However, knowledge and experience learned from this project are valuable.

23. Notes on the applicability if any

IX. Application examples

X. Other related parallel initiatives if any


XI. Remarks for version upgrade


Attached files:

Similar technologies

By Hazard

> Flood (15)

> Drought (10)

Institutions contributing to DRH Contents (Click here): posted on request