(May 27, 2014) Another excellent entry in a growing number of critiques examining China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project and the controversial geo-engineering giant’s large-scale problems.
China is so bad at conservation that it had to launch the most impressive water-pipeline project ever
(March 17, 2014) Reporter Lily Kuo takes an in-depth look at China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project — the world’s largest water diversion conceived originally by Mao Zedong as a way to relieve North China’s dwindling water resources by “borrowing” from the south of the country. But not even the project’s leaders are pretending the mammoth, ultra-complex, $80-billion scheme will solve China’s water problem. Moreover, it has already created extra problems. Kuo concludes the project is another example of an engineer-dominated government’s fondness for huge-scale vanity projects with a particular weakness for mega-water works. No wonder. Without the man-made institutions — a robust regulatory regime and the rule of law — the Chinese government is bereft of tools to induce the efficient use (and conservation) of water. And so it builds canals and moves water from one watershed to another, creating havoc and perpetuating the problem of China’s crippling water crisis.
(March 17, 2014) Part two of Lily Kuo’s substantial overview of China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project (SNWDP) and its resettlement process. Kuo notes that since 1949, more than 45 million Chinese have been displaced by infrastructure projects and, of those, 12 million have been moved for water schemes. The water projects, she notes, have a particularly depressing record in terms of outcomes for the resettled. Although there are signs, she says, of villagers moved for the SNWDP receiving better care than those in the past, the same old resettlement problems abound. Worst of all, there are no farms to tend and jobs to do. “This isn’t a life,” says one migrant of the soul-destroying joblessness. “In the morning, you see everyone sleeps in. In the afternoon, they play cards. That’s it.”
(February 14, 2014) German-based hydrology expert Wang Weiluo says Beijing’s water scarcity is a manmade disaster that began following the Chinese Communist Party takeover in 1949.
(October 28, 2013) This excellent report by Agence France-Presse looks at the growing number of drawbacks posed by China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project and asks whether the $80-billion geo-engineering giant is creating more problems than it is supposed to solve. For example, the strong risk of collecting and distributing tainted water from the supply waterways it draws from, which would render the water carried unusable; the energy required to move water uphill for long sections; the displacement of entire communities in large numbers for reservoir construction, as well as the construction feats required to pull off certain aspects of the project’s plans – such as blasting channels through mountains in earthquake zones on the Tibetan plateau. Not to mention the threat posed by construction of this scale in seismically active zones.
(October 12, 2013) This Economist report looks at the gravity of China’s water crisis, once summed up by Wang Shucheng, a former water minister as: “To fight for every drop of water or die: that is the challenge facing China.”
(June 25, 2013) The Danjiangkou Reservoir, a major supply source for China’s high-cost South-North Water Diversion project — slated to provide Beijing with water by 2014 — is heavily polluted with untreated sewage. Lax enforcement of environmental laws and a shortage of funds are making the situation worse, says the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. A deeper problem is the absence of legislation governing water sources, China Daily reports.
(May 31, 2013) The process of diverting water from the Yangtze River through the eastern route of China’s massive South-to-North Water Diversion Project began this week after 11 years since construction began. Although the water diversion intended for drought-prone cities in China’s arid northern regions “will enrich the water supply in the north, its impact on the ecosystem is irreversible,” said Ma Jun, an environmentalist.
(January 22, 2013) China’s largest-ever forced relocation effort, in the northwestern gateway province of Shaanxi, is set to transform the lives of more than 2.8 million people over a period of 10 years. The massive migration, even by China’s standards, is currently underway in part to make way for another of the country’s vast infrastructure projects, the enormous south-north water transfer scheme; in part due to environmental degradation – geological instability caused by deforestation, and in part as a result of socioeconomic inevitability – a formidable long-range political objective to urbanize impoverished, rural populations. Drawing on his conversations with migrants, writer Andrew Stokols in this update for Chinadialogue.net, observes the human cost of China’s quest for modernity which has left many migrants struggling to meet new expenses and feeling stung by a loss of independence, purpose and stability.
(October 16, 2012) A new report by Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited (HSBC) warns that water shortages in China could undermine power production by water-intensive thermal generators and hydro dams, putting economic growth at risk, especially in the metals and mining, utilities, and manufacturing sectors. Allocating water resources by decree in China’s planned economy is unlikely to work, predicts HSBC’s strategist Wai-Shin Chan. Investors should beware and attempt to estimate the effect of looming shortages on the life of their assets: without water security, investors could be left stranded.
(June 6, 2012) Reporter Shi Jiangtao sounds the alarm on China’s dam-building frenzy along the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, revisiting the findings of the 2011 Probe International study, “A Mighty River Runs Dry,” by geologist Fan Xiao.
China’s plan to invest more than 64 billion yuan ($10.13 billion) in the country’s South-to-North Water Diversion Project this year, will push the total investment to date over the 200 billion yuan mark (more than $30 billion).
(January 5, 2012) Yang Yong on the future of river management in China and the issues currently facing the country’s more controversial dam projects.
(October 18, 2011) From next year on, water quality will become a form of criteria used to evaluate the performance of local officials in Xichuan county of central China’s Henan province. The whole range of ecological indices to be adopted for official evaluation include the quality of water entering Xichuan, the establishment of tree plantations, the control of soil erosion and treatment of garbage and waste water, as well as the number of polluting enterprises that have been shut down.
A massive forced relocation is underway in Shaanxi: 3 million residents – double the number displaced by the Three Gorges Dam – will be moved from mountains and farming villages, in part, to make way for China’s South-North Water Diversion Project, reports Kathleen E. McLaughlin at GlobalPost. Migrants don’t even get full compensation for their lost homes. Instead, they’re only given about 10% of the cost – and forced to make up the rest by taking out government loans.