Standard Article

Flood Control in the Yellow River Basin in China

Surface Water Hydrology

  1. Rongchao Li

Published Online: 15 APR 2005

DOI: 10.1002/047147844X.sw259

Water Encyclopedia

Water Encyclopedia

How to Cite

Li, R. 2005. Flood Control in the Yellow River Basin in China. Water Encyclopedia. 3:45–50.

Author Information

  1. Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 APR 2005


During the early decades of the twentieth century, flood control in the Yellow River basin has evolved as a combination of traditional management practices, influences from European-based industrial society, and new technical and organizational features from modern Chinese society. The views on flood management were determined by the famous Chinese flood managers, Li Yizhi, Shen Yi, Zhang Hanying, and Wang Huayun. In the mid-1950s, a multipurpose plan for permanent control of the river was initiated. This plan included the construction of more than 40 dams and projects to moderate the river's flow (and produce energy).

Today, on the upper and middle stream of the Yellow River, there are 173 large and medium-sized reservoirs whose total storage capacity is 55.2 billion m3. Downstream of the Sanmenxia reservoir (see Figs. 2 and 5), two large flood retardation basins—the Beijinti and the Dongpinghu—were constructed. Their storage capacity is 2 billion m3 each and detention area 2316 km2 and 627 km2, respectively. Altogether 5000 bank protection works with a total length of 585 km were built. In this way, the flood control works can resist peak discharges of 22,000 m3/s (1958 flood) at the Huayuankou hydrologic station (1958 flood), corresponding to a 60-year return period. The Xiaolangdi Reservoir whose a storage capacity is 12.65 billion m3 on the lower reach increased the protection standard there to a return period of 1000 years.


  • flood control;
  • Yellow River;
  • sediment;
  • flood risk;
  • dike