South–North Water Transfer Project
The South–North Water Transfer Project (Chinese: 南水北调工程; pinyin: Nánshuǐ Běidiào Gōngchéng) is a multi-decade infrastructure project of the People's Republic of China to better use water resources in China. This is because heavily industrialized northern China has a much lower rainfall and its rivers are running dry. The project includes a Western, a Central and Eastern route. The routes aim to divert water from the Yangtze River to the Yellow River and Hai River. The eastern route uses the course of the Grand Canal; the central route is from the upper reaches of the Han River (a tributary of Yangtze River) to Beijing and Tianjin; and the western route is in the western headwaters of the rivers where the Yangtze River and the Yellow River are closest to one another. This project will divert 44.8 billion cubic meters/year of water from south to north.
The idea for the South–North Water Transfer Project originated from Mao Zedong who said, "Southern water is plentiful, northern water scarce. If at all possible, borrowing some water would be good." The complete project is expected to cost $62 billion – more than twice as much as the Three Gorges Dam. Until 2012 more than $34 billion have been spent.
Eastern route 
The Eastern route is said to be the most advanced in construction. It consists of an upgrade of the Grand Canal. Water from the Yangtze River will be drawn into the canal in Jiangdu, where a giant 400 m³/s (12.6 billion m3/year if operated continuously) pumping station was built in the 1980s. The water is then pumped up by stations along the Grand Canal and through a tunnel under the Yellow River, from where it can flow downhill to reservoirs near Tianjin. Construction on the Eastern route officially began on December 27, 2002, and water was supposed to reach Tianjin by 2012. However, water pollution has affected the viability of the route, in addition to construction delays. The route is expected to initially provide water for the provinces of Shandong, Jaingsu and Anhui, with trial operations to begin in mid-2013. As of early 2013 no date has been set for when the water would reach Tianjin. Tianjin is expected to receive 1 billion m3/year. The Eastern route is not expected to supply Beijing, which is to be supplied by the central route.
The completed line will be slightly over 716 miles (1,152 km) long, equipped with 23 pumping stations with a power capacity of 454 megawatts. It includes two 9.3 m diameter horizontal tunnels 70 m under the riverbed of the Yellow River.
Central route 
The central route is from Danjiangkou Reservoir on the Han river, a tributary of the Yangtse River, to Beijing. This route is built on the North China Plain and, once the Yellow River has been crossed, water can flow all the way to Beijing by gravity. The main engineering challenge is to build a tunnel under the Yellow River. Construction on the central route began in 2004. In 2008 the 307 km-long northern stretch of the central route was completed at a cost of US$2 billion. Water in that stretch of the canal does not come from the Han River but from reservoirs in Hebei Province, south of Beijing. Farmers and industries in Hebei had to cut back water consumption to allow for water to be transferred to Beijing.
The whole project was expected to be completed around 2010. This has recently been set back to 2014 to allow for more environmental protections to be built. A problem is the influence on the Han River, where approximately 1/3 of the water is diverted. One long-term consideration is to build another canal to divert water from the Three Gorges Dam to Danjiangkou Reservoir. Another major difficulty is the resettlement of around 330,000 persons near Danjiangkou Reservoir and along the route. On October 18, 2009, Chinese officials began to relocate residents from the areas of the Hubei and Henan provinces that will be affected by the reservoir. The completed line will be approximately 1,264 km long, initially providing 9.5 billion m3 of water annually. By 2030, it is expected to increase its water transfer to 12 billion to 13 billion m3 annually. Industries are prohibited to locate in the watershed of the reservoir to keep its water drinkable.
Western route 
The western route, called the Big Western Line, is in the planning stage. It aims to divert water from the headwaters of the Yangtze River (the Tontian, Yalong and Dadu Rivers) into the headwaters of the Yellow River. To move the water through the drainage divide between these rivers, huge dams and long tunnels are needed to cross the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau and Western Yunnan Plateaus. This route is designed to bring 3.8 billion m3 of water from three tributaries of the Yangtze River about 450 km across the Bayankala Mountains to northwest China. The Tongtian diversion line would be 289 km long, the Yalong 131 km, and the Dadu 30 km. The feasibility of this route is under study; this project won't start in the near future. Environmentalists have raised concerns about potential flooding. The respective rivers are entirely within China.
In addition, there are long-standing plans to divert about 200 billion cubic metres of water annually from the upstream sections of six rivers in southwestern China, including the Mekong (Lancang River), the Yarlung Zangbo (called Brahmaputra further downstream) and the Salween (Nu River), to the Yangtze River, the Yellow River and ultimately to the dry areas of northern China through a system of reservoirs, tunnels and natural rivers. The project was considered too immense and costly to be undertaken at the time. The respective rivers are transboundary and a diversion would affect India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.
Construction costs of the eastern and central routes was estimated to be 254.6 billion yuan ($37.44 billion) in 2008. The government had budgeted only 53.87 billion yuan ($7.9 billion), less than a quarter of the total cost, at that time, including 26 billion from the central government and special accounts, 8 billion from local governments and almost 20 billion in loans. As of 2008, around 30 billion yuan had been spent for the construction of the eastern (5.66 billion yuan) and central routes (24.82 billion yuan). Costs of the projects have significantly increased.
Project controversy 
Since the introduction of the project, it has created widespread controversy. Opponents object to it on the grounds that it is a waste of resources; it could create a large number of migrant people; it could waste massive amounts of water through evaporation and pollution; the project's huge cost would make the water prohibitively expensive for consumers; the dry season could cause the Yangtze River to suffer from water shortages; it would be detrimental to the Yangtze River's transportation; and it could cause an environmental disaster. Additionally, some villagers being relocated for the central route claim they were forced to sign relocation agreements.
Government officials and defenders of the project claim the Yangtze River has a plentiful supply of water, with 96% of the water currently flowing into the Pacific Ocean. They argue that transferring one portion to the poorly irrigated areas of the north could solve the north's water scarcity issue.
See also 
- Water resources of China
- Meng Xuenong, the project's deputy director 2003-07
- Northern river reversal project in the Soviet Union
- Water Technology:http://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:http://www.water-technology.net/projects/south_north/ South-to-North Water Diversion Project, China, September 2008
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|url=(help) on 2007-09-11. Retrieved 2011-01-22.
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- New York Times: Map of South-North Project