China Environmental News Digest

Daily updated Environmental news related to China

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Struggling Beijing should have new source of water by 2008 - official


Shanghai.  August 2.  INTERFAX-CHINA - The first phase of the ambitious South-North Water Diversion (SNWD) project will provide China's capital, Beijing, with a much-needed source of new water by the time the Olympic Games are held in the city in 2008, confirmed an official with the Ministry of Water Resources on Tuesday.

Li Guoying, the chairman of the MWR's Yellow River Water Resources Commission, was speaking at a press conference held to introduce new regulations aimed at maintaining the water levels in the Yellow River, the faltering lifeline of nine northern Chinese provinces.  

He said that the transfer of water to Beijing by 2008 "should not be a problem", with construction already underway on the central branch of the SNWD project, which will connect the capital to the Yangtze tributary, the Han.

The controversial SNWD project was launched in 2002 in response to the severe and worsening water shortages of northern China.  The construction of three major routes connecting the Yangtze River with the Yellow River is expected to take as long as 50 years and cost RMB 500 bln (USD 62.5 bln).  If construction goes according to plan, it will eventually divert 44.8 bln cu m of water per year from the flood-prone south to the parched north. 

Global warming and desertification, as well as the construction of large-scale hydropower stations like the one at Sanmenxia in Henan Province, have left the Yellow River in a parlous state, but Li insisted that state efforts have brought about noticeable improvements.  After regularly failing to reach the eastern coast from the 1970s onwards, the Yellow River's current has remained unbroken for the past seven years, he said.

"The current of the Yellow River is still lower than the long-term average," Li Guoying told reporters, "but we have implemented measures guaranteeing the unbroken flow of the river, and we believe that this is a historical and very outstanding achievement in the management of large-scale rivers throughout the world."

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