Tourists view cherry blossoms at Yuyuantan Park in Beijing, capital of China, March 26, 2017. (Xinhua/Liu Xianguo)
LANZHOU, March 27 (Xinhua) -- Water has reappeared in a lake that had been dried up for more than 50 years in Dunhuang city, northwest China's Gansu Province, after the government spent billions of yuan on water conservation.
Once the largest fresh-water lake in Dunhuang, the Har Lake started to shrink as migrants moved inland to Dunhuang from as early as the 1720s. By the 1980s, the lake had completely dried up.
In 2011, the State Council approved a plan worth an estimated 4.72 billion yuan (about 686 million U.S. dollars) on water conservation and environmental protection in Dunhuang.
Under the plan, 10 to 20 percent of the water from two upper stream reservoirs will be released to supplement the lower stream. An ancient canal was also renovated to direct water into the lake.
Over 50 million cubic meters of water have been released from the reservoirs, according to local water conservancy bureau.
"The water in Har Lake can help prevent the desert from moving east to Dunhuang, and preserve local bio-diversity," said Sun Zhicheng, senior engineer in Dunhuang West Lake National Nature Reserve Administration.
Dunhuang is famous for its UNESCO-listed caves, boasting thousand-year-old Buddhists sculptures and paintings. Desertification poses a constant threat to cultural heritage in the city.