China to expand South-North mega water project
Water treatment
Wednesday, 29 January 2020

China to expand South-North mega water project

One of the largest water diversion projects in history is set to be expanded in China.

The South-to-North Water Diversion Project takes water from the flood-prone south and transfers it to the dry, thirsty north of China.

While a total of 30 billion cubic meters of water have already been transferred in the five years since it started, the project will be expanded, according to Bloomberg.

Jiang Xuguang, vice minister of the Ministry of Water Resources reportedly told the press that the country aims to double the capacity of the project.

According to Bloomberg, phase two of the project will cover the eastern and middle routes, with the former having its annual capacity raised from 8.7 billion cubic metres to 16.5 billion cubic metres.


Increased supply will benefit Bijing, Tianjin, Hebei and Shi Chunxian.

Project controversies

The western route of the project, which is still being studied, would divert water from the Yangtze to help replenish the Yellow River.

Bloomberg said this is “the most controversial part of the project”.

First proposed in 1952, the South-North Water Diversion Project has received various criticisms since its start.

Reuters said that China has been increasingly prioritising grand engineering feats with “elaborate water diversion schemes” rather than improving efficiency and conservation. 

Replacing underground pipes is not nearly as sexy as building the biggest inter-basin diversion on the planet.

Professor Darrin Magee from the Hobart and William Smith Colleges was quoted saying “replacing underground pipes is not nearly as sexy as building the biggest inter-basin diversion on the planet”.

The ministry didn’t give any costs for the second-phase expansion or when the construction would be completed, and said the western route of the project is still being studied. 


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