South-north canal starts flowing to ease water woes

Source:Global Times Published: 2014-12-13 0:03:01

The 1,432-kilometer long artificial waterway diverting water from China's south to solve the water shortage crisis in the north, particularly Beijing, started operation on Friday.

About 9.5 billion cubic meters of water will pass through the newly-built canal each year from Danjiangkou reservoir in Central China's Hubei Province to cities like Beijing and Tianjin, as well as more than 100 cities in Henan and Hebei provinces, according to a report by China Central Television.

The water will arrive in Zhengzhou, the capital of Henan in three days, and reach Beijing in 15 days. More than 60 million people along the water channel will be able to drink the high-quality water from Danjiangkou, which is part of the Hanjiang river that flows into China's largest river, the Yangtze.

The project is expected to largely alleviate the pressure of water shortages in the northern regions, where annual precipitation is much lower than the southern areas and years of excessive use have caused underground water to dwindle to a dangerous level.

According to the plan, more than 1.2 billion cubic meters of water will go to Beijing each year. The water, after being mixed with local above-ground and underground water at treatment plants, will cover more than 50 percent of Beijing people's daily needs and part of industrial usage.

But experts warned that the situation is still far from optimistic considering the population and the huge gap between the supply of water and North China's needs. 

In Beijing, some 2.1 billion cubic meters of natural water is formed each year, but last year more than 3.6 billion were used. Beijing pumps about 500 million cubic meters of underground water more than is sustainable each year, China National Radio (CNR) Friday quoted the Beijing Water Authority as saying.

It will be impossible for Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei to fix the water crisis "unless they make the best use of every drop of water," Li Yuanyuan, vice director of the Water Resources and Hydropower Planning and Design General Institute, told the CNR.

Sun Guosheng, chief of Beijing's Office of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project, hinted there might be a slight price rise soon to encourage people to save water, the Xinhua News Agency reported.

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