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Relief at hand for thirsty northern cities
By Liang Chao (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-09-19 05:49

China's largest water diversion project will start supplying water to Shandong Province by 2007 and Beijing by 2010 as scheduled, officials confirmed yesterday.

"By then, the first phase of the project's eastern and middle lines will be put into operation despite challenges in the way," Zhang Jiyao, top official of a special office of the project's construction committee under the State Council, said in Beijing.

People in North China's Beijing, Tianjin and other key cities in Hebei and Henan provinces plagued by worsening water shortages will be able to use high grade fresh water channelled from the Yangtze River through the two huge long canals.

He made it clear that "no changes have been made to the schedule though there are problems to be tackled."

"We have planned to intensify water pollution control along the eastern line," he said. "Fund-raising and a lot of digging for new subprojects will kick off soon as well."

Zhang Liwei, an official with the office, pledged "to stop any dirty water from flowing into the eastern line canal."

Authorities in Shandong and Jiangsu provinces have shut down numerous small paper mills along the banks of the canal to avoid possible pollution - the worst problem for the eastern line, said Jiang Xuguang, spokesman of the office.

To date, 78 pollution control projects (including some wastewater treatment plants), 30 per cent of the total along the line, have been completed in these provinces with 111 others still under construction, he said.

An overall plan has been worked out to keep water clean upstream at the Danjiangkou Reservoir, the water source of the middle line in Central China's Hubei Province, and make water in the reservoir up to drinkable standards, he added.

The south-to-north water diversion project consists of three south-to-north canals, each running more than 1,000 kilometres across eastern, middle and western parts of the country.

Taking water from the Danjiangkou Reservoir, the middle line will pass through Hubei, Henan and Hebei provinces to Zhengzhou, Shijiazhuang, Beijing and Tianjin, North China metropolises and key cities facing worsening water shortages.

The eastern line is designed to transfer water from East China's Jiangsu Province along the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal to Shandong and neighbouring areas and finally Tianjin.

Specific details about the western line are yet to be finalized.

Construction of the first phase of the eastern and middle routes officially began in 2002.

(China Daily 09/19/2005 page2)

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