Beijing Water

Experts push for westward water diversion route

China Daily
October 14, 1998

Beijing: Officials and experts yesterday called for preparatory steps to be taken in the construction of the final west route of the south-to-north water diversion project, to bring much needed water to parched Northwest China. Once completed the project will carry urgently needed water from southern China through a series of canals to the dry northern provinces, ensuring a supply for farming and industry. Work began on the project’s east and middle routes in 2002. But construction of the final west route, which is hampered by the difficulties of crossing the 3,000 – 5,000 metre-high Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, is not scheduled to begin until 2010.  The completed project will bring 4 billion cubic metres of water from three tributaries of the Yangtze to Northwest China. Despite worries about the adverse environmental impact such a huge diversion may cause, “we should push forwards with the engineering preliminaries as soon as possible to benefit Northwest China’s drought-stricken provinces along the Yellow River,” said Li Guoying, the director of the Yellow River Water Resources Committee. Li sees the project as one of the most important guarantees of water for Northwest China. Speaking at a symposium on the area’s water scarcity in Beijing yesterday, he said increasing supply was the only way the area could shake off its chronic water crisis. “Beside other measures like water-saving, bringing extra water into the northwest area through the west route is of vital importance for the region’s economy in coming years,” he said. By 2030 at least 4.5 billion cubic metres of water will be needed to fuel economic growth in the northwestern region, experts say. Covering 44 per cent of China’s total territory, the region is rich in resources including coal, oil, natural gas and farmland, but further development remains at risk due to the lack of water. The worsening water shortage has now reached about 5 billion cubic metres a year in areas with booming populations and massive construction, an uncompleted survey released by water authorities yesterday indicate

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