Infographic: Map of Water Allocations in China’s Yellow River Basin

Water allocations for the Yellow River Basin’s nine provinces.

A 1987 plan to allocate and enforce specific allotments of water to each of the 9 provinces in the Yellow River Basin is based on an estimated river volume of 58 billion cubic meters (15 trillion gallons).

This estimate, however, has proven faulty: last year, the river volume fell to 53 billion cubic meters (14 trillion gallons), and, in 2003, it dropped below 45 billion cubic meters (12 trillion gallons).


Map © Ball State University for Circle of Blue.
Click through the interactive map to see how a 1987 plan allocated water resources to each of the 9 provinces within China’s Yellow River Basin. Source: Wang Yahua, China Environment Series 6.

Map and graphic by Stephanie Stamm, Justin Manning, Stephanie Meredith, and Kate Roesch, undergraduate students at Ball State University.

With contribution by Nadya Ivanova, a Chicago-based reporter for Circle of Blue, and Jennifer Turner, director of the China Environment Forum within the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars. Reach Ivanova at

3 replies
  1. Isaac Leung says:

    V grateful for this fascinating and totally great infographic.
    Can I ask how much of the river flow is allowed to reach the sea as a percentage of total, and whether Beijing is allocated any YRCC water?
    Isaac Leung

  2. Isaac Leung says:

    Got it – 63.8% is the total water withdrawal quota (added up the province scores and came to this figure – then I realised this was 37/58).

    Can I therefore assume Beijing is allocated no YRCC water but gets its water from other sources? Isaac Leung

  3. Nadya Ivanova says:

    Hello Isaac,

    Thank you for your question. Beijing does not have a direct Yellow River quota. However, neighboring Hebei Province does, and Beijing frequently transfers water from Hebei.

    Earlier this year, People’s Daily reported that starting in 2011, Beijing will transfer 300 million cubic meters of water annually from the Yellow River through the Yellow River-to-Beijing Water Diversion Project. You can read more about it here:

    Let me know if you have other questions.

    Circle of Blue Reporter and Producer

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