Water diversion project to be operational next year

Updated: 2012-02-06 10:08


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JINAN - China's massive project to divert water from the south to its arid north will be partially completed this year and will start supplying water in 2013, a water conservancy official in the eastern Shandong province said Saturday.

"About 6 billion yuan ($952.8 million) will be spent to complete civil construction in Shandong province before the end of this year, so as to ensure the entire project becomes operational in the first half of 2013," said Sun Yifu, deputy water resources chief in Shandong province, at a meeting on the project's development Saturday.

Sun also heads the provincial construction management bureau of the south-to-north water diversion project. 

He said the province aims to pass the state's acceptance tests for seven pumping stations, and 24 pivotal engineering projects including a tunnel beneath the Yellow River.

The first batch of 18 water supply units will be operational next year, and the remaining 23 units will be completed by 2015, said Sun.

China's south-to-north water diversion project consists of three routes, the eastern, middle and western routes.

Shandong has been building part of the eastern route, which runs 1,467 km, since 2002. As of the end of 2011, investment had totaled 15.8 billion yuan.

The project was first conceived by former Chinese leader Mao Zedong in 1952 and the State Council, or China's Cabinet, approved the ambitious project in December 2002 after debates that lasted nearly a half century.

The project, with an estimated total cost of 500 billion yuan, has aroused global concerns over land use, possible regional climate changes, environmental damage, impact on agriculture and human suffering in the wake of massive relocations.

The project plans to divert 44.8 billion cubic meters of water annually from the Yangtze through eastern, middle and western routes to relieve water shortages in north China by 2050.

Its central route, the construction of which began in 2003, would be operational in 2014.

Construction has not begun on the western route.