U.S. Water News Online
BEIJING -- Hundreds of Chinese bulldozers have begun
digging as work began on a multi-billion dollar project aimed at
channeling water from China's south to its parched north, Chinese
state media reported.
When finished, three canals will carry over 36 billion acre feet
of water a year from major rivers in the south about 800 miles to
thirsty regions in the north.
The diverted water will help about 300 million people in nine
provinces, media said.
"The South-North water project is a water resource adjustment
project that will cover more than half of China," Xu Xinyi, a top
official involved in the project, told state television.
"It will bring great benefits to the economy, our society and the
environment," he said.
The project, first conceived by late Communist Party chairman Mao
Zedong 50 years ago, was officially launched at a ceremony attended
by Premier Zhu Rongji in the capital Beijing.
It is scheduled to be finished in 2050, China Central Television
With overall investment estimated at $59 billion, the project
could end up costing twice as much as the controversial Three Gorges
hydropower dam, the official Xinhua news agency said.
Controversy has surrounded the south-to-north water project, with
both Chinese and foreign environmental experts saying it could spur
widespread corruption, environmental damage and dry up the
flood-prone Yangtze river in 30 years.
The three south-to-north canals, which will stretch across the
eastern, middle and western parts of China, will eventually link the
country's four major rivers -- the Yangtze River, Yellow River,
Huaihe River and the Haihe River, Xinhua said.
CCTV showed dozens of women in white traditional outfits beating
red drums at one of the project's main construction sites in eastern
Jiangsu province to mark the start of the first phase, which is
expected to take five years.
Areas expected to benefit the most include Beijing, the northern
port city of Tianjin and the eastern provinces of Jiangsu and
Shandong, Xinhua said.
Coastal Shandong province suffered its most serious drought in a
century this year, according to the China Daily.
China's water crisis is widely believed to be partly man-made.
Unchecked industrial development has dried up rivers, wells and
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