Returning Life to the Yellow River

The Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize is one of the highlights in Singapore each year and honours outstanding contributions towards solving global water problems.

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The Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize is one of the highlights in Singapore each year and honours outstanding contributions towards solving global water problems. This year's winner – the Yellow River Conservancy Commission – helped to protect 90 million people living in flood–prone areas

This year's Singapore International Water Week will see the Yellow River Conservancy Commission (YRCC) being awarded the Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize 2010. The award sets out to recognise outstanding contributions towards solving global water problems by either applying technologies or implementing policies and programmes which benefit humanity.

A success story of transforming China's second–longest river, YRCC pipped 49 other nominees to the post and will become the third recipient of the prize.

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The project is said to have improved the reliable supply of water and enhanced the quality of life for over one hundred million people both in the basin and in regions served by the river.

Large areas of wetlands and biodiversity in Yellow River Delta have also been restored over the years, returning life and vitality to the river.

Boasting the highest average annual sediment transporting volume and concentration in the world, the Yellow River has previously been associated with devastation flooding. By regulating water and sediment flow, YRCC has been able to reduce the risk of flooding and help protect the 90 million people living in the flood–prone areas downstream of the river.

YRCC has also implemented an integrated operation of reservoirs along 3,000 kilometres of the river, to regulate river flow and boost storage capacity.

Remote sensing and automation is employed to collect real–time river system information to monitor and control the reservoirs and dams. Through the coordinated operation of Xiaolangdi Dam and other reservoirs, YRCC has carried out nine flushing operations since 2002 to regulate the flow of water and sediments in the lower reaches of the Yellow River.

This has deepened the riverbed by an average of 1.5 metres for some 900 kilometres downstream of the river and more than doubled the river's maximum flow capacity from 1,800 m3/s to 3,880 m3/s to substantially improve flood safety. Emergency response plans to manage, control and mitigate major water pollution incidents have also been put in place by the YRCC.

YRCC will receive the award from Singapore's first Prime Minister and present Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew at this year's Singapore International Water Week. YRCC will also deliver the acclaimed Singapore Water Lecture to 300 government, business and academic leaders at the Water Leaders Summit, where the Commission will share its experience and success factors in returning life and vitality to the Yellow River.

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