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South-North Water Transfer Project

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China is currently engaged in an enormous water diversion project to more evenly distribute its water sources. The South-North Water Transfer Project was originally proposed in 1952 by Mao Zedong to rectify the uneven distribution between Northern and Southern China.

China has about seven percent of the world’s water resources and roughly 20 percent of its population.[1] About four-fifths of the country’s water supply is in the south.[2]

The project was discussed with severe scrutiny for 50 years before being approved by China’s State Council on August 23, 2002. The construction is expected to take almost as long, with an estimated completion date of 2050.

The water transfer project has been divided into three separate sections: Eastern, Central, and Western routes. It will divert 58 billion cubic yards (44 billion m3) of water annually, thereby providing the drier north with a more reliable water source.[3] The entire project is expected to cost about US$62 billion.[4]

Contents

[edit] Construction History

The uneven distribution of water in China has been a growing problem for decades. While the population continues to expand throughout the country, the North has a considerably smaller water source for its citizens than the South.

According to a study done by Zhu Ruixiang, a planning director at the South-North Water Transfer project, the South has 81 percent of China’s water, while the North only has 21 percent.[5]

China’s Ministry of Water Resources claim less than half of the country’s surface water is potable and 35 percent of ground water is drinkable.[6]

Mao Zedong proposed the project in 1952, but because of the enormous of amount of work involved, an extensive amount of research, planning, and discussion was undertaken before the State Council eventually approved the project in August 2002.

The project has been divided into three separate routes: Eastern, Central, and Western.

Water along the diversion lines was tested for quality standards. Enough quality water was discovered to continue the project, but a significant amount was found to be neither drinkable nor suitable for agricultural use.[7] As a result, environmental efforts were made to limit the amount of pollution, including the building of water treatment facilities and strict emission standards for all riverside factories.

[edit] Eastern Route

Haihe Water Resources Commission and the Tianjin Hydroelectric Investigation and Design Institute designed and planned the Eastern route. It will supply water to Shandong Province and the north part of Jiangsu.

Diverted water from the Yangtze River will travel along existing river channels through the Weishan Mountains of Shandong before crossing the Yellow River via a tunnel and flowing to Tianjin.[8] The completed line will be slightly over 716 miles (1,152 km) long, equipped with 23 pumping stations with a power capacity of 453.7 megawatts.[9] The new pumps will work in conjunction with the existing seven, which will be rehabilitated and upgraded.

The Eastern route requires the construction of a nearly 5.6-mile (9-km) long tunnel from the outlet of Dongping Lake to the inlet of Weilin Canal.[10] Two additional 5.7-mile (9.2-km) tunnels will also be excavated 230 feet (70 m) below the Huanghe riverbed.[11]

Preparation for construction and efforts to limit water pollution resulted in the closing of a number of factories along the riverside.[12] Shandong is reportedly investing US$ 1 billion to cut pollution discharge by 60 percent, while Jiangsu will spend approximately US$700 million on pollution prevention.[13]

"Nowadays, environmental protection is not a trouble. In the past it cost 27 yuan to treat one ton of sewage, and now 20 yuan of profits will be made by treating a ton of sewage", said Zheng Wenjing, managing deputy manager with Shandong Linghua Gourmet Powder Co Ltd.[14]

Construction of the Eastern route began in December 2002.[15]

[edit] Central Route

Changjiang Water Resources Commission designed and planned the Central route. It will supply water to Hebei, Henan, Beijing and Tianjin.

Diverted water from Danjiangkou reservoir on the Han River will travel via new canals near the west edge of the Huanghuaihai Plain to flow through the Henan and Hebei Provinces to Beijing. The completed line will be approximately 785.5 miles (1,264 km) long, initially providing 12.5 billion cubic yards (9.5 billion m3) of water annually.[16] By 2030, it is expected to increase its water transfer to 16 to 17 billion cubic yards (12 to 13 billion m3) annually.[17]

The central route requires the construction of a 27.8-foot (8.5-m) diameter, 4.3-mile (7-km) long tunnel.[18] This tunnel will siphon 650 cubic yards (497 m3) of water per second.[19]

Construction of the Central route began in December 2003.[20] It includes heightening the dam at the Danjiangkou reservoir by about 50 feet (15 m), reaching a total height of 574 feet (174 m).[21] The reservoir’s capacity will be enlarged by 15 billion cubic yards (11.5 billion m3).[22]

[edit] Western Route

Yellow River Conservancy Commission designed and planned the Western route.

It is the most challenging and also controversial of all the diversion lines. Its construction involves working on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, approximately 10,000 to 16,000 feet (3,048 to 4,877 m) above sea level, which offers severe engineering and climatic challenges.

This route is designed to bring five billion cubic yards (3.8 billion m3) of water from three tributaries of the Yangtze River (Tontian, Yalong and Dadu), nearly 300 miles (483 km) across the Bayankala Mountains to northwest China.[23]

The diversion of this water could affect a number of other nations, including Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, who rely on this water downstream. These countries have therefore met the diversion with resistance.

Approximately 24 billion tons of effluent is pumped into the Yangtze annually, which has resulted in schistosomiasis, or snail fever, reaching epidemic proportions in some areas.[24]

Construction of the Western route is not scheduled to begin until 2010.

[edit] Effects of the Project

Similarly to another current giant Chinese construction project, the Three Gorges Dam, the South-North Water Transfer Project will result in the destruction of antiquities and pasture lands, and the displacement of people. Nearly 400,000 people will be displaced from their ancestral lands.[25]

"We must ensure that good arrangements are made for the lives and work of the resettled people, and that the living standards of those people will not go down because of resettlement," said Zhand Jiyao, director of the South-North Water Transfer Project Construction Committee.[26]

There are also concerns of further pollution to the diverted water. Industrialization along the new diversion routes poses serious risks. To counteract this occurring, the government has set aside US$80 million to build new water treatment facilities.[27] However, some estimates predict new facilities will require twice as much money.[28]

[edit] Equipment Used

[edit] References

  1. Yardley, Jim. Beneath Booming Cities, China's Future is Drying Up. The New York Times, September, 2007. (accessed: 2008-09-25)
  2. Yardley, Jim. Beneath Booming Cities, China's Future is Drying Up. The New York Times, September, 2007. (accessed: 2008-09-25)
  3. South-to-North Water Diversion Project, China. Water-Technology, 2008-09-25.
  4. South-to-North Water Diversion Project, China. Water-Technology, 2008-09-25.
  5. Zhu, Ruixiang. China's South-North Water Transfer Project and Its Impacts on Economic and Social Development, 2008-09-25.
  6. 400,000 to Make Way for Water Diversion Project. China.org.cn, 2008-09-25.
  7. South-to-North Water Transfer Project. People's Daily, 2008-09-25.
  8. South-to-North Water Diversion Project, China. Water-Technology, 2008-09-25.
  9. South-to-North Water Diversion Project, China. Water-Technology, 2008-09-25.
  10. South-to-North Water Diversion Project, China. Water-Technology, 2008-09-25.
  11. South-to-North Water Diversion Project, China. Water-Technology, 2008-09-25.
  12. South-to-North Water Transfer Project. People's Daily, 2008-09-25.
  13. South-to-North Water Transfer Project. People's Daily, 2008-09-25.
  14. South-to-North Water Transfer Project. People's Daily, 2008-09-25.
  15. 400,000 to Make Way for Water Diversion Project. China.org.cn, 2008-09-25.
  16. South-to-North Water Diversion Project, China. Water-Technology, 2008-09-25.
  17. South-to-North Water Diversion Project, China. Water-Technology, 2008-09-25.
  18. South-to-North Water Diversion Project, China. Water-Technology, 2008-09-25.
  19. South-to-North Water Diversion Project, China. Water-Technology, 2008-09-25.
  20. 400,000 to Make Way for Water Diversion Project. China.org.cn, 2008-09-25.
  21. South-north water diversion, a dream to be realized. Yellow River, 2008-09-25.
  22. South-north water diversion, a dream to be realized. Yellow River, 2008-09-25.
  23. South-to-North Water Diversion Project, China. Water-Technology, 2008-09-25.
  24. 400,000 to Make Way for Water Diversion Project. China.org.cn, 2008-09-25.
  25. 400,000 to Make Way for Water Diversion Project. China.org.cn, 2008-09-25.
  26. 400,000 to Make Way for Water Diversion Project. China.org.cn, 2008-09-25.
  27. South-to-North Water Diversion Project, China. Water-Technology, 2008-09-25.
  28. South-to-North Water Diversion Project, China. Water-Technology, 2008-09-25.