YINING, Xinjiang – China launched a joint water diversion project, a long-awaited one on Khorgos, a cross-border river with neighboring Kazakhstan, on Friday (April 15) to benefit the peoples on either bank of the tributary to the Ili River.
Ground was broken in a site 27 km from the Khorgos Port on the Chinese side for key engineering of the China-Kazakhstan Friendship Joint Water Diversion Project.
It was designed by the Kazakh side with a capacity of drawing at least 50 cubic meters of water per second from the river for the two countries with each getting half of the water, according to experts from the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps that responsible for its construction.
Upon completion, it can effectively improve irrigation, securing water supply for ecosystem and reducing flood damage downstream the border river, especially the Khorgos Port and floods hazards to China-Kazakhstan Trade Cooperation Zone, which is still under construction.
Addressing the groundbreaking ceremony held on the Chinese side, Jiao Yong, vice-minister of water resources, said China has worked with Kazakhstan for years in a common effort for various preparations needed by the project.
"The project has not only fully reflected the Sino-Kazakh strategic mutual trust，mutual benefit for win-win and the spirit of cooperation for common development but also achieved positive results the two countries made in utilizing and protecting transboundary rivers,” he said.
He said he hopes both sides can give weight to quality and safety of the project by accomplishing it in a well-organized and scientific way and making it a landmark project for China-Kazakhstan friendship cooperation on cross-border rivers use and protection.
Orman Anarbek, chairman of the water resources committee under the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan, applauded China to kick off construction of the project as the two sides have agreed.
"We’ve worked 20 years for launching the project with Chinese side thanks to the great concerns showed by the top leaders of the two countries,” he said, adding “from now on, Kazakhstan will continue to cooperate with China on the cooperation of cross-border river to benefit the two peoples.”
The Khorgos River, 148 km in length, rises in the Aktas, an offshoot of the Tianshan Mountains, and flows southwards from Kazakhstan, forming a boundary between the two with Northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on its’ east bank and Kazakhstan on the west.
Covering a drainage area of more than 1,600 sq km, the river has an annual runoff of 540 million cubic meters.
To draw water from the river, both China and Kazakhstan built several intake works on their own sides over the past years.
However, heads of their canals are often been damaged by floods with water-taking becoming disorder and difficulty for farming irrigation on the cross-border river and dispute over water-use being arisen.
To solve the river issue, the two peoples longed for a key water diversion project on it since 1970s. The dream came true today with the help of the China- Kazakhstan Cross-Border Rivers Joint Committee. Under the mechanism, the two countries reached an agreement on cooperation on the river water use and protection last year.
According to the agreement, the tow sides will share $9.56 million investment for the joint water diversion project on the Khorgos River with its construction completed in 18 months.