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Guangdong to divert water to fight salt tides
By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-01-11 21:35

More than 750 million cubic metres of fresh water from Southwest China will soon be diverted to the Pearl River Delta in Guangdong Province to help fight severe drought and salt tides currently striking the region, officials say.

The water diversion project -- the largest of its kind in the country's history -- will start on January 17 and last two weeks.

The massive amount of water from the upper reaches of the Pearl River will have travelled as far as 1,336 kilometres to reach the major cities in the Pearl River Delta region, which borders the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

The move is to help ensure drinking water supplies to the provincial capital Guangzhou, Zhongshan, Zhuhai, Foshan, Jiangmen, Zhaoqing in the prosperous Pearl River Delta; and, the Macao Special Administrative Region, officials said.

The target date is Chinese lunar New Year that starts on February 9, a traditional peak period for water supply demand.

Water conservation departments in Guangdong are now busy negotiating with their counterparts in Guizhou Province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on details and technical issues for the large water diversion project, according to Wang Qiusheng, deputy director of Pearl River Water Conservation Committee.

The Ministry of Water Resources will continue to help co-ordinate the draw-off of water to lower reaches of the Pearl River in the coming months if it is required, Wang told local media yesterday.

Located in the upper reaches of the Pearl River, many large and mid-sized reservoirs in Guizhou and Guangxi have abundant water reserves, Wang said.

Guizhou's Tianshengqiao Reservoir alone has a water reserve of 10.2 billion tons. And more than 5 billion tons of the reservoir's water reserves can be used or regulated.

Li Ronggen, vice-governor of Guangdong Province, said Guangdong is now experiencing its worst salt tides in two decades and its most severe drought in 55 years, Li told a recent working conference in Guangzhou.

Fresh-water supply falls short of the province's demand by more than 12 billion tons, which are vitally needed in fighting the drought the severe salt tides that have hit major cities in the Pearl River Delta.

"Water supplies to more than 15 million people in the prosperous Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong and Macao will be affected in the coming months unless effective measures can quickly be taken to defuse the crisis,'' he said.

The cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Huizhou, Dongguan and Foshan are among the hardest hit by the salt tides

Many waterworks in the Pearl River Delta have ceased production due to the impacts of severe drought and salt tides.

Li has also urged relevant departments at all levels to take whatever measures they can to help fight the natural disaster and ensure drinking water supplies to local residents and domestic animals.

Drought has affected more than 2.5 million people and several millions of animals in Guangdong.

By the end of December, more than 930,000 hectares of farmland in Guangdong have been affected.

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