Defining the Geopolitics of a Thirsty WorldSM
The Thirsty Dragon: South-North Diversion Delays

Via Reuters, an update on China’s ambitious South-North Water Diversion, namely a likely delay.  As the report notes:

“…China has postponed completing a huge water transfer project to quench its national capital’s thirst, citing stubborn pollution worries for pushing the target date back four years to 2014, official media said on Saturday.

The South-North Water Diversion scheme will channel water from the Yangtze River and its tributaries to ease shortages across northern China, where population growth and frantic industrialization have drained dams and underground reserves.

The main “central route” stretching 1,267 kms (787 miles) from the Danjiangkou Dam in central Hubei province to Beijing was due to be finished in 2010.

But not now.

Hubei officials said on Friday that pollution and ecological strains in the rivers feeding the dam will make that impossible, Hubei’s Changjiang Times said, in a report reprinted by the official Xinhua news agency ( ).

“To prevent ecological and environmental risks to the South-North Water Diversion Project, completion of the central route will be delayed for 4 years,” said Wang Fenyu, a Hubei official working on the scheme, according to the paper.

“This means Beijing residents will have to wait another 6 years before they can drink high-quality water from the Dankiangkou Dam.”

Until now, officials have given no sign the high-profile project would be delayed. The other, eastern route of the project has also been beset by pollution problems.

The hold-up could bring planning headaches for China’s national capital, which supports a population of 17 million on dwindling local water sources.

In the absence of the Yangtze tributary supplies, Beijing has been pumping additional water from neighboring Hebei province, which itself suffers severe shortfalls.

A Hubei environmental official, Zou Qingping, said that once the central route draws water from the Danjiangkou Dam, reducing flows along the Han River that cuts past the dam, “water quality problems will become even more serious” for the province.

Wang, the project official, said this meant “Hubei must build even more water treatment plants and ecological restoration facilities.”

There was no mention of the delay on the South-North scheme’s website ( ), and on the weekend its officials could not be contacted for comment.

Critics of the project have long said the scheme to replenish north China from far-off rivers risks dangerously destabilizing already battered water systems.”

This entry was posted on Sunday, December 7th, 2008 at 6:08 am and is filed under China, Yangtze River.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

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