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China installs real-time monitoring to save desert river

(Xinhua)

17:21, November 14, 2011

URUMQI, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- China is installing a multi-million-yuan water level monitoring system along its longest inland waterway, the Tarim River, to control the flow in a bid to save the river from disappearing.

Cameras and sensors are being installed at water control junctions and reservoir floodgates along the 1,321-km-long Tarim River, which rims the northern edge of the Taklamakan Desert, China's largest desert in farwest Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region.

Engineers sitting in a central control room will use the data to manage the flow and allocate water to each reservoir, officials with the regional government's development and reform commission said Monday.

The Tarim River, which traverses Taklamakan, has been the main water source sustaining the more than 8 million people living in oases clustered along its banks and in an alluvial plain downstream.

The Tarim's water source comes from melting snow on the towering mountain ranges of Tianshan and Kunlun that sandwich the Taklamakan Desert in the north and south.

But in recent years, the downstream section of the river has often dried up during low-water periods as a result of increased human activities, unregulated use of water and climate change.

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