Tuesday, October 29, 2013

China's water megaproject threatens flood of problems

Space Daily via AFP: China is looking to rework nature itself with a gargantuan project to divert water from its lush south to the parched and populous north which will take half a century and tens of billions of dollars to achieve. But when test runs began this year, villagers along the route said the inflow polluted their lake, leaving it teeming with silvery rotting fish carcasses and killing their livelihood.

Officials in the eastern province of Shandong rejected their account, but the incident feeds into concerns that the behemoth South-to-North Water Diversion plan may be creating more problems than it solves.

The hugely complex geo-engineering project officially began in 2002, is scheduled to take 50 years and 500 billion yuan ($80 billion) to build, and requires feats including blasting channels through mountains in earthquake zones on the Tibetan plateau.

If it works, its three separate routes from different points on the Yangtze river will deliver 45 billion cubic metres (1.6 trillion cubic feet) of water a year across 4,350 kilometres (2,700 miles) of canals and tunnels to the Beijing area and vast swathes of the north.

The region needs the water. With just a fifth of the country's total supply, northern China supports nearly half the population and economy and two-thirds of the arable land, according to a 2009 World Bank report...

Guangzhao Dam in Guizhou, China, shot by 千里走单骑, Wikmedia Commons, under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license

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