News / Asia

China's Water Transfer Project Runs Into Problems

Engineers construct a base to the Daning Reservoir, an important link in the South-North Water Transfer Project
Engineers construct a base to the Daning Reservoir, an important link in the South-North Water Transfer Project

A 50-year plan to divert water from the Yangtze River to China's dry, thirsty north has run into problems.  The South-North Water Transfer Project is behind schedule and now concerns are growing the water to be pumped north is contaminated.

Regiments of pile drivers pound the earth at the giant Daning Reservoir on the southern outskirts of Beijing.  The huge excavation is part of the most ambitious plumbing job in the world - and the oldest.

China's South-North Water Transfer Project was first planned 50 years ago, but work began in earnest  in 2004.

On completion, the $60 billion project will divert water from the mighty Yangtze River Basin more than a thousand kilometers south to northern China.

Engineer Peng of the South-North Water Transfer Project
Engineer Peng of the South-North Water Transfer Project

One of the many engineers on the Daning site is a man who identified himself only as Peng.

Engineer Peng says the reservoir should be completed by early next year if all goes according to plan.

Water is being diverted southward in three giant channels, eastern, central and western.

Daning reservoir is the end of the line for the central channel.

Like the building of the Yangtze Dam, millions of people have been relocated by the government in what has been described as a sacrifice to solve the nation's drought problem.

But China's biggest hydro-engineering project is in deep trouble.

It is far behind schedule, thus worsening the water crisis in large northern cities like Beijing, where the population is rapidly growing.

Worse, recent reports say the water from the basin is so contaminated that even the 400 expensive treatment parts along the route cannot make it safe for use.

Wang Jian Hua is a scientist from Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research who had agreed to talk about the project. He says he can no longer comment about the South North Water Transfer Project as right now it has become what he describes as a sensitive issue.

VOA asked to speak to other government departments about the project but all refused to comment.

Demand for water has never been so high in China.

Three-hundred million people are moving from the country side to the cities.  Statistics indicate these re-located farmers use three times the amount of water in the cities compared to farming the land.  

There is also 30 years of environmental damage from the fast pace of modernization.  Water tables, the 'surface' of the ground water in a given vicinity, are heavily polluted from unchecked industrialization.  This puts enormous pressure on policy makers in the world's most populous country to come up with solutions to the water shortage.

The question now is whether engineering feats such as the South North Water Transfer Project will work.  British journalist Jonathan Watts has just published a book on China's environment issues titled "When a Billion Chinese Jump." He has visited several sites of the South North Water Transfer Project.

"On the question of whether it works, obviously the Chinese government has gambled a great deal on the assumption that it will work," he said.  "However, we're a considerable part of the way through the project and some problems have emerged that do raise serious questions for the engineers."

Among those problems, Watts says, is the severe drought that struck southern China earlier this year.  He says this raises questions as to whether the south really has enough water to help out people in the north.

Water has become not only a precious commodity in China.  It is fast becoming a defining social and political issue.

At Daning Reservoir, the pile drivers spark once more to life after a short lunch break.  Workmen pour concrete into huge trenches near six huge metal sluice gates.

Engineer Peng says the current focus of work is on the grounds of the reservoir.  He has to ensure the precious cargo soon to be delivered far from the south does not leak and waste away.

You May Like

China May Be Biggest Winner From Ukraine Crisis

Missile sales, oil and gas shipments are among many areas that may drive Beijing and Moscow closer together in coming years More

Obama Faces Chaotic World, Limits of Power

Current foreign policy issues bring into focus challenges for US policymakers who are mindful of Americans' waning appetite for overseas military engagements More

SADC Meeting Lesotho Officials to Resolve Stalemate

Official says regional bloc has been engaged with leaders in Lesotho to resolve political disagreement that led to coup attempt More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015i
X
Carol Pearson
August 30, 2014 7:14 PM
A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.
Video

Video Cost to Raise Child in US Continues to Rise

The cost of raising a child in the United States continues to rise. In its latest annual report, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says middle income families with a child born in 2013 can expect to spend more than $240,000 before that child turns 18. And sending that child to college more than doubles that amount. VOA’s Deborah Block visited with a couple with one child in Alexandria, Virginia, to learn if the report reflects their lifestyle.
Video

Video Chaotic Afghan Vote Recount Threatens Nation’s Future

Afghanistan’s troubled presidential election continues to be rocked by turmoil as an audit of the ballots drags on. The U.N. says the recount will not be completed before September 10. Observers say repeated disputes and delays are threatening the orderly transfer of power and could have dangerous consequences. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Battles Pro-Russia Rebel Assault

After NATO concluded an emergency meeting to discuss the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the country is struggling to contain heavy fighting near the strategic port of Mariupol, on the Azov Sea. Separatist rebels are trying to capture the city, allegedly with Russian military help, and Ukraine's defense forces are digging in. VOA's Daniel Schearf spoke with analysts about what lies ahead for Ukraine.
Video

Video Growing Business Offers Paint with a Twist of Wine

Two New Orleans area women started a small business seven years ago with one thing in mind: to help their neighbors relieve the stress of coping with a hurricane's aftermath. Today their business, which pairs painting and a little bit of wine, has become one of the fastest growing franchises across the U.S. VOA’s June Soh met the entrepreneurs at their newest franchise location in the Washington suburbs.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials To Begin Next Week

The National Institutes of Health says it is launching early stage trials of a vaccine to prevent the Ebola virus, which has infected or killed thousands of people across West Africa. The World Health Organization says Ebola could infect more than 20,000 people across the region by the time the outbreak is over. The epidemic has health experts and governments scrambling to prevent more people from becoming infected. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Asian Bacteria Threatens Florida Orange Trees

Florida's citrus fruit industry is facing a serious threat from a bacteria carried by the Asian insect called psyllid. The widespread infestation again highlights the danger of transferring non-native species to American soil. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Aging Will Reduce Economic Growth Worldwide in Coming Decades

The world is getting older, fast. And as more people retire each year, fewer working-age people will be there to replace them. Bond rating agency Moody’s says that will lead to a decline in household savings; reducing global investments - which in turn, will lead to slower economic growth around the world. But experts say it’s not too late to mitigate the economic impact of the world’s aging populations. Mil Arcega has more.
Video

Video Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

U.S. President Barack Obama has ruled out sending ground troops to Iraq to fight militants of the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, despite officials in Washington describing the extremist group as the biggest threat the United States has faced in years. Henry Ridgwell reports from London on the growing uncertainty over whether the West’s response to ISIS will be enough to defeat the terrorist threat.
Video

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

The United States along with European and Mideast allies are considering a broader assault against Islamic State fighters who have spread from Syria into Iraq and risk further destabilizing an already troubled region. But as VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports, confronting those militants could end up helping the embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.

AppleAndroid