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

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Arkansas, North Carolina have approved similar laws that gay-marriage opponents say help maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals 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.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More