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China’s South-North Water Division Project will take water from the wet south, to the arid north, and once completed will be one of the greatest feats of engineering in the world.
Construction on the project began in 2002, and is estimated to take about 50 years to complete. The plan is to pump around 45 billion cubic metres of water from the Yangtze River up to northern China.
Last week saw the first tests on the first phase of the project, which will transfer water from Jiangsu Province to Shandong Province. Operation expected to begin later in the year.
China has 20% of the world’s population, but only 7% of its water, and as its economy grows, so too does its demand for water. China has already begun to suffer water shortages, and some experts have predicted that China’s water supply will not meet demand by 2030.
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Of the little water resources that China controls, 77% are located in the south, meaning that the north is very dry. A project to attempt to balance out the spread of water around the country seems like a good idea on the surface, but it has received a lot of criticism due to environmental impacts that it may have.
Ma Jun, the director of the Institute of Public and Environmental Affairs stated that “though the water diversion will enrich the water supply in the north, its impact on the ecosystem is irreversible.”
Debra Tan, of China Water Risk, has said, “I think the traditional thinking was that let's just shift the water from the rivers that we have in the south to the north so we don't have to use up the groundwater. Which makes sense on a broader level. But of course it brings about environmental concerns about whether it will damage the ecosystem of the river and so on.”
By. Charles Kennedy of Oilprice.com
Charles is a writer for Oilprice.com