Wednesday, June 5, 2013

China's mega water diversion project begins testing

Jennifer Duggan in the China's Choice blog at the Guardian (UK): When it is completed, it will be one of the world's biggest feats of engineering. China's South-North Water Diversion Project, initially a vision of Mao's, will take water from the south of the country to the arid northern region, including the capital Beijing, which suffers from water shortages.

The ambitious project has been under construction since 2002 and it is expected to take almost 50 years for all sections to be complete. It aims to pump almost 45 billion cubic metres of water a year to the north, equivalent to the water flow in the Yellow River in northern China. The water will be pumped from the Yangtze river and its basin.

Testing started last week on the first phase of the eastern part of the project and according to the state-controlled newspaper China Daily, this part of the project will start operation later this year. This phase will transfer water from Jiangdu in Jiangsu Province which is located on the Yangtze River to Shandong Province along the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal.

It is also planned that there will be a middle route and a western route. The middle route is expected to begin operating next year and will supply water from Hubei province to cities in the north including Beijing and Tianjin. The western route, which is supposed to use water diverted from the upper reaches of the Yangtze to replenish the Yellow River, has been besieged with problems and is still at planning stages.

....Water shortages have become a huge problem for the world's second largest economy. China has 20% of the world's population but only an estimated 7% of its freshwater water reserves. Experts project that China's water supply will not be able to meet with demand by 2030 if it continues with water use at current levels. Some parts of China are comparable to the Middle East in terms of water resources and water scarcity could have a massive impact on the economy as these regions also contribute up to 45% of China's Gross Domestic Product....

The Yellow River at Lanzhou, shot by Colegota (maybe--attribution unclear), Wikimedia Commons,  under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.5 Spain license

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