Pride before a fall: water pipe helps cherished waterfall in China stay flowing

It is a cherished natural beauty spot in China: the Yuntai waterfall sees plumes of water cascade hundreds of metres down a gorge, soaking the many tourists it receives with mist as they stare up at its heights to take photos.

However, officials have admitted the 314-metre falls in Henan province has received a “small enhancement” and relies partly on water pumped from a pipe during the dry season.

The admission was sparked by a video filmed by a visitor using a drone that was widely shared across Chinese social media this week. It showed water coming from a circular pipe nestled between the rocks.

Yuntai falls has China’s highest tourism site classification and is one of the most popular attractions inside the Yuntai Geo park, where visitors view the towering falls from a platform near its base.

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The source of Asia's highest #waterfall is a water pipe?😅 In Xiuwu County, Henan Province, the Yuntai Mountain Scenic Area boasts the &quot;highest waterfall in Asia,&quot; the Yuntai Mountain Waterfall, with a staggering drop of 314 meters.
A man discovered with a #drone on Tuesday that… pic.twitter.com/m4EJ7rjQz7

&mdash; Shanghai Daily (@shanghaidaily) June 4, 2024

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The source of Asia’s highest #waterfall is a water pipe?😅 In Xiuwu County, Henan Province, the Yuntai Mountain Scenic Area boasts the “highest waterfall in Asia,” the Yuntai Mountain Waterfall, with a staggering drop of 314 meters.
A man discovered with a #drone on Tuesday that… pic.twitter.com/m4EJ7rjQz7

— Shanghai Daily (@shanghaidaily) June 4, 2024

The viral video quickly became one of the top trending topics on Weibo, with more than 14m interactions with the related hashtag. The videos was reported on by some local state media outlets including the Shanghai Daily.

Most responses online found the news humorous, and few seemed to mind the revelations about the pipe.

“We come here to have fun. We come here to see the beauty. The beauty is good and the pictures are good!” said one commenter.

“Appropriate artificial intervention increases the beauty of the scenic area. This is essentially to give tourists a better experience,” said another.

On Tuesday the park responded with a statement, written in the voice of the waterfall, saying that the pipe was used to ensure visitors always see it “in the most beautiful way”.

Tourists at the Yuntai Geo park. Photograph: Penta Springs Limited/Alamy

“In order to enrich your visiting experience and make your visit worthwhile, I made a small enhancement during the dry season, just to meet you in a better posture.”

Online discussion also saw many local residents say they had long known of the water pipe, blaming it on neighbouring Shanxi province for blocking the upstream river flow with development.

The Yuntai Geo park received more than 11 million visitors in 2019. The popular attraction also made headlines in 2015 after operators installed a glass skywalk which was quickly shut down after cracks formed during a holiday weekend.

The Guardian