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Water facilities in ancient Guangdong listed

ByZheng Caixiong in Guangzhou (chinadaily.com.cn) Update:2020-12-11

The Mulberry Garden Dikes project, or Sangyuanwei, in Foshan, Guangdong province, was listed as the World Heritage Irrigation Structure by the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage in Morocco on Wednesday.

The project, the largest agricultural river dike hydraulic engineering project in the Pearl River Delta, is the first irrigation project in Guangdong to be listed by ICID as a world heritage irrigation structure. The project is also the first world irrigation project heritage with river dike water conservancy facilities as the main focus in China.

Also listed with the project were the Tianbaopo, Longshouqu and Sanshiliuyan irrigation projects, located in the provinces of Fujian, Shaanxi and Zhejiang, to bring China's total listed world heritage irrigation projects to 23 in China's long history of irrigation.

The Mulberry Garden Dikes were originally built during the reign of Huizong of the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127).

The river dikes stretch 68.85 kilometers in the lower reaches of the Xijiang River, the main tributary of the Pearl River, while the enclosed area consists of 133.75 square kilometers. The project once protected more than 1,500 hectares of fertile farmland in the Pearl River Delta region.

The dikes have played a big role in promoting local regional economic and social development and cultural prosperity for more than 1,000 years, as they have functioned as irrigation, flood control, drainage and water transportation facilities.

Currently the project, located mainly in the Nanhai and Shunde districts of Foshan, plays a role in ensuring the safety of irrigation, water supplies, flood control and drainage for 413.33 hectares of farmland.

The project was named "mulberry" because of the many mulberry gardens and trees in the area.

Many historic sites of the project and ancient villages in the area have now become tourist attractions thanks to protections begun in past years.

Numerous ancient inscriptions, documents, water conservancy facilities and water god worship sites have been found in the area, along with many ancient bridges, trees and wells.