China’s Latest Mega Water Project Faces Controversy

Epoch Times31. August 2009 Aktualisiert: 31. August 2009 11:01

The South to North Water Diversion Project aims to move 45 billion cubic meters of water to China’s northern provinces—places stricken by chronic water shortage. It will take water from the Yangtze River in the south, and move it northward along three main routes: eastern, central, and western.

But ever since work began in December 2002, the project has been controversial.

Earlier this month, 12,000 rural residents in Henan Province were relocated from their villages. Chinese media report they’re being moved away from the Danjiangkou Reservoir so it can be heightened to hold more water—water that will eventually be diverted through Henan and Hebei provinces to Beijing.

But besides the human impact, one water expert says the project could have dangerous environmental consequences. Dr. Wang Weiluo (王維洛) explains what can happen if water is re-routed against its natural east-west flow.

[Dr. Wang Weiluo, Environmental Expert]:
“This channel will cut across nearly 700 rivers. The rivers may be flowing quite well now, but if there’s a flood, or if there’s a drought, the entire river will effectively become a basin. Where will all the water go if there’s a flood?”

Then there’s the money. Chinese media report that the eastern and central routes will cost an estimated 37 billion U.S. dollars.

The two routes will also see the relocation of 44,000 more people. And according to China’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage, the water diversion project will affect 788 important cultural spots, including two UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

And despite all these potential impacts, Dr. Wang says, the water diversion won’t fundamentally solve the north’s water shortage problem.

[Dr. Wang Weiluo, Environmental Expert]:
“The root cause of northern China’s lack of water is not that the area is a place of drought. Beijing has a water shortage problem because Beijing has damaged its own water resources. So even if it diverts water, the problem cannot be solved.”

The massive water project is set to be completed in the year 2050.


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