China / Society

Water diversion project will benefit 500 million people

( Updated: 2012-12-27 19:12

About 44.8 billion cubic meters of water will be supplied to drought-prone North China every year, benefiting 500 million people, when the South-to-North Water Diversion Project is completed, authorities said.

The project, the world's largest water diversion, will transfer water from the water-rich south, mainly the Yangtze River, to the drought-prone north and consists of three routes: eastern, middle and western.

Construction started on the eastern route in December 2002, and on the middle route a year later.

The first phase of the project's eastern route will divert water from Jiangdu, Jiangsu province, on the Yangtze River into Shandong province along the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal in 2013.

The first phase of the middle route will supply water from the Danjiangkou Reservoir in Hubei province to northern cities, including Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang and Zhengzhou, in 2014.

The first phase of the eastern and middle routes stretches 2,899 km, accounting for about 67 percent of the project's overall length.

E Jingping, head of the SNWD project office under the State Council, praised the achievements of the project over its 10-year construction, praising the efforts in resettlement work, project construction, and improvements in water quality.

So far, 345,000 residents in Hubei and Henan provinces who live around the Danjiangkou Reservoir, where water is to be drawn for the project's middle route, have been resettled.

Up to 1.4 billion cubic meters of water have already been transferred to Beijing through the Beijing-Shijiazhuang section of the middle route — linking reservoirs in Hebei with Beijing, since 2008 as an emergency measure to help ease the water shortage in the capital.

The project will transfer at least 1 billion cubic meters of water to Beijing a year, accounting for one-fourth of the city's annual water supply, according to the Beijing branch of the SNWD project office.

China had invested 213.4 billion yuan ($34.3 billion) into the first phase of the project's eastern and middle routes as of October, according to the project office.

The western route, meant to replenish the Yellow River with water diverted from the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, is still at the blueprint stage.

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