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Water returns to dried up lake in Xinjiang

  URUMQI, July 9 (Xinhua) -- Workers building a highway in southern Xinjiang have to put in extra work to prepare for rising water levels in a once dried up lake.

  A new 681-kilometer highway is under construction between Xinjiang's capital Urumqi and Ruoqiang County in the south.

  About 14.5 kilometers of the highway runs through the Taitema Lake, which dried up in the 1970s but has since been re-watered by Tarim River.

  Taitema Lake dried up in 1972 due to excessive farming irrigation. Starting from 2000, water was transfused from the upstream of Tarim River. In 2017, the lake surface measured around 511 square kilometers, according to a satellite image.

  The highway under construction is a new artery linking Xinjiang to neighboring Qinghai province.

  "Construction started from August last year, and by October, the foundation was laid, but the lake's water level kept rising. According to the previous design, in the future the road may be inundated," said Chen Feng, manager of the highway section through the lake.

  The road sections were raised by an average of 45.9 centimeters, and at some points, roads were raised by 1.41 meters.

  "No one expected water to pose a threat to the roads through the area. The rising water level is testament to an improved environment," said Xu Shengwu, director of Daxihaizi Reservoir along the Tarim River.

  Workers changed the design and added more bridges and tunnels to ensure the safety of the highway. They also used low-salt materials to construct the foundation to minimize impact on the lake's water quality, said Chen.

  The Taitema lake divides the Taklimakan Desert and Kum Tag Desert. Trees have been planted along the highway to shield it from strong wind.