While there is no doubt China’s industry-heavy northeast is parched, some critics say China’s geo-engineering South-North Water Diversion project is yet another example of China trying to engineer its way out of a problem that could be largely solved through better policies, such as a tiered pricing system for water and better monitoring. Stian Reklev for Reuters reports.
Some provinces in Northern China have less freshwater per person than the desert countries of the Middle East, writes Stian Reklev for Reuters on China’s south-to-north transfer project.
The water coming out of Beijing taps later this month may have traveled more than 1,400 kilometers, transported along a series of canals and pipelines that form part of the world’s biggest water transfer project.
The $62 billion undertaking – dreamed up by former Communist Party leader Mao Zedong in the 1950s – is designed to supply China’s parched and pollution-ridden north, home to more than 300 million people and countless water-intensive businesses.
Reklev highlights concerns surrounding the project as the best way to secure water supply for China’s industry-heavy northeast.
Some experts, he writes, fear “the project’s extensive tapping of water from the Yangtze River and its tributaries may damage one of China’s most important water ways.” Others fear the volume of water drawn will harm the development of regions it is taken from. Even at the high levels of China’s central government, concerns have been voiced.
In February, Qiu Baoxing, the vice minister of housing and urban-rural development, said the water diversion project was unsustainable and that Beijing would be better off relying on desalination technology and saving rain water.
Some critics have said the project is yet another example of China trying to engineer its way out of a problem that could be largely solved through better policies, such as a tiered pricing system for water and better monitoring.