China claims world’s biggest man-made waterfall — but 350-foot cascade costs US$117 per hour to run

Stunning architectural feature opens in southern city of Guiyang, but high running costs raise questions

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 July, 2018, 11:04pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 July, 2018, 4:52am

A province in southern China known for its stunning natural beauty can now also boast the world’s largest man-made waterfall – but it doesn’t come cheap.

Flowing 108 metres (350 feet) down the glass exterior of the Liebian International Building in Guiyang, capital of Guizhou province, the waterfall is about 3 metres longer than the previous record holder at the Solar City Tower in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

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Built by Ludi Industry Group, the feature uses recycled water from basement storage tanks, which is pushed to the top of the 121-metre-high building by four giant pumps before re-emerging as a cascade from a massive opening on one side.

Once fully occupied, the multi-purpose building will comprise offices, shops and a luxury hotel, company director Cheng Xiaomao said, though the latter has to be completed.

The idea for the waterfall came from company president Zhou Songtao, who said he wanted to promote the city’s green image.

“Guiyang is a city of mountains, and with many trees, just like a forest. He wanted to create a feeling of water and greenery, even when you are surrounded by skyscrapers,” Cheng said.

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Although the waterfall was completed about two years ago, it has only been turned on six times, with the latest occasion being for half an hour on Sunday to mark the Guiyang International Marathon.

Nevertheless, people had already begun to consider the building a local landmark and were using it as a place to go for a walk or to socialise, Cheng said.

One of the reasons the waterfall does not appear more often is the operating cost. While the water comes free, the price of powering the pumps is about 800 yuan (US$117) an hour, Cheng said.

While some internet users questioned whether the extravagant design was a waste of money, others were full of compliments.

“The scene is very impressive. You seldom see a waterfall in a city,” said a woman in a video published on the Pear Video website this week.

“It looks very soothing on a hot summer day. The idea is very creative,” said another.

One social media user was undecided, however.

“A price must be paid for an artificial spectacle, especially a large one like this. Whether it’s a waste of money or worth more than the 800 yuan an hour is for the company to calculate.”