Beijing Water

The South-North Water Diversion project: in the Chinese government’s own words

Probe International
February 3, 2010

After years of delays and setbacks, construction on the South North Water Diversion project is now moving forward at “full capacity”. According to an official from the State Council, in 2010 alone, the government plans to invest a record 48 billion yuan ($7.02 billion) in the massive water project.

But the full details of the project remain elusive. What is the South-to-North Water Diversion project? And why is the Chinese government carrying out this massive re-ordering of the nation’s watersheds with apparent disregard to the environmental and economic costs? Because, says the government “the water and soil resources are distributed rather unevenly in China.”  Rather than allow the economy to develop around the nation’s natural resource riches and constraints, the government will ensure that they bend to its will.

Read the government’s explanation in its own words, and be amazed at the size, complexity and cost of the project.

The South-to-North Water Transfer Project

Taken from the ChangJiang Water Resources Commission website.

The water and soil resources are distributed rather unevenly in China. The river runoff in the Yangtze basin and the south of it accounts for 80% or more of the total of the whole country, while the farmlands in this area account for 40% or less of the total. So, this area is the rich water resources area. On the contrary, the area of the three basins of the Yellow River, Huai River and Hai River as well as the inland in the Northwest accounts for 50% of the total area of the whole country, the farmland 45% and the population 36%,while the water resources in this area account for only 12%of the total of whole country, which is referred as the poor water resources area. The Northwest and North China has rich mineral and land resources and is the production base of energy, grain ,cotton and edible oil in China, which plays an important strategic role in the national economy. In particular, the plain region in Yellow river, Huai river and Hai river basins and the Shandong peninsula are developed area of economy with dense population and cultivated land in China, the shortage of water resource has become a restrictive factor for its economical development and worsened its ecological environment. In order to meet the layout of development of social production, it is necessary to construct the water transfer project for a reallocation of water resources between the above areas so as to optimize the water resources distribution.

The South-to-North Water Transfer Project( The Project) is a infrastructure for water transfer from the water-abundant Yangtze basin to the water-short north area.

The Project is characterized by its long distance and large volume of water transfer. By comprehensive study for several decades, the general layout of the Project approved by the State authority is as follows: by three separate routes, to transfer water from the upper, middle and lower reaches of Yangtze river respectively.

“West-Route Project”: Transfer water from the Tongtianhe, Yalongjiang and Daduhe rivers in the upper reach of Yangtze into the Yellow River. The Project will be constructed by three stages with an annual average total transfer water volume of 170×108m3, mainly to supply water to 6 provinces (region) of Gansu, Ningxia, Inner Mongolian, Shaaxi and Shanxi in the upper and middle reaches of Yellow River. The water diversion of West-Route Project is mainly conducted by means of self-flowing and tunnel transfer. So, it is necessary to build high dams of 123-273m and to excavate extra long tunnels of 244-490km.

“ Middle-Route Project ”: At first, it is to divert water from the Danjiangkou reservoir on the Hangjiang river, which is a branch of the Yangtze. The annual average transfer water volume will be 9.5 billion m3 in the first stage, 13-14 billion m3 in the following stage. The Project will mainly supply water to 4 provinces (cities) of Beijing, Tianjing, Hebei and Henan, which are situated in the west and central part of the plain of Yellow River, Huai River, Hai river and in the Tangbeihe area. The water transfer can be done by means of self-flowing through the whole route and it is necessary to build the trunk canal of 1276 km in the above plain area and the main canal of 155 km to divert water to the city of Tianjing. The Project will mainly construct open canals and also use pipelines and culverts in some sections. It is also necessary to heighten the dam of Danjiangkou reservoir in water source area and to build 4 regulating works in the middle and lower reaches of Hangjiang river. In future, it is also possible to transfer water from the mainstream of Yangtze River.

“ East-Route Project ”: Transfer water by pumping from the lower reach of Yangtze nearby Yangzhou city. The Project will be implemented in 3 stages with an annual average pumping water volume of 8.9-14.8 billion m3. By making use of the Grand Canal from Beijing to Hangzhou and the river channel parallel with it, the Project will transfer water, by way of step-by-step pumping,to supply water to Jiangsu, Shandong, Hebei provinces and the Tianjing city in the east plain of Yellow river, Huai river and Hai river. In the near future, it will mainly supply water to the north of Jiangsu province and the east of Shandong province. The length of main line for water transfer is 1156 km, of which 663 km is in the south of Yellow river. It is necessary to build 13 stepped pumping stations with a total lift of 65m. After crossing the Yellow river, the water can be diverted to the city of Tianjing by way of self-flowing.

The above 3 route projects of water transfer have their main task respectively and a reasonable range of water supply. They are complemented each other and can run parallel. On Nov.27, 2002, the commencement ceremony of East-Route Project was held in the Great Hall of the People, and it’s works at the water source in Lixiahe area of Jiangsu province and it’s works for the Yangtze water crossing the Yellow river at Jinan city of Shandong province were started at same time. On Dec.30, 2003, the Yongdinhe reverse siphon works in Beijing for emergency water supply on the Beijing-Shijiazhuang section of the Middle-Route Project and Hutuohe reverse siphon works in Hebei province were started at same time, which shows the formal start of Middle-Route Project construction. Therefore, the East-Route Project and Middle-Route Project of South-to-North Water Transfer have entered the stage of simultaneous construction.

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