U.S. Water News Online
BEIJING -- Scientists have discovered a massive groundwater
aquifer in China's arid northwest, giving hope for the reduction of
poverty in one of the country's most remote and sparsely populated
regions, state media have reported.
The aquifer beneath the Taklamakan desert has a capacity about the
same as the 244-square-mile reservoir being filled behind China's
massive Three Gorges Dam, newspapers and the official Xinhua News
The find resulted from a comprehensive survey of water resources
in the Xinjiang region, Xinhua said. That study found about 35
billion cubic feet of groundwater could be exploited annually, Xinhua
Newly found supplies coming from about 50 different underground
sources could alleviate the need to construct 10 major reservoirs,
``Our findings can provide a hydrological and geological
foundation for the solution of civilian, industrial and agricultural
water consumption,'' the report quoted a top geologist, Wang Min, as
Northwestern China, including Xinjiang, accounts for one third of
the country's territory but only about 90 million of its 1.3 billion
China launched a major drive to develop the area two years ago,
hoping to close a deep income gap with the better-developed east and
more tightly bind its often restive population of ethnic minorities
to the rest of China.
While the region boasts deposits of gas, oil and other minerals,
its native populations remain heavily dependent on agriculture,
especially the growing of grapes and melons for sale to other parts
of China. About 10 million people in the region still lack access to
clean drinking water, Xinhua said.
Well drilling could help improve access to potable water, but
scientists are stressing the need for sustainable development to
ensure that limited water resources last, Xinhua said.
The report didn't say how water would be drawn from the aquifer
beneath the Taklamakan, a wasteland the size of Poland where
temperatures can hit 117 degrees Fahrenheit in summer.
Water resources have been stretched to the limit by China's
growing population and economy. China last year began work on a $59
billion project to divert water from the verdant south to the
increasingly dry north.
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