This capital’s growing thirst for clean water is clashing with provincial demands and concerns that plans to tap China‘s rivers will hurt an already troubled environment.
As a result, China has delayed by four years a project to transfer water more than 600 miles from a tributary of the Yangtze River to Beijing and Tianjin, pushing the completion date to 2014.
First proposed by Mao Zedong in the 1950s, the south-to-north water diversion is designed to maintain explosive industrialization in – and migration to – the country´s northern cities.
Critics of the $62 billion project have long argued that it is riddled with environmental flaws. Some of the strongest calls for a delay come from officials in central Hubei province, home to the Danjiangkou Dam, where the water would originate.
By Chris Obrein
The Washington Times
Above: The Danjiangkou Dam is seen here under construction in July 2006 in central Hubei province, China. Photo: Getty Images
Wang Fenyu, a project official, told the Changjiang (Yangtze) Times recently that completion of what is known as the “central route” had been pushed back from 2010 until 2014 “to prevent ecological and environment risks.”
To ensure Beijing´s thirst is not quenched with dirty water, “Hubei must build even more water-treatment plants and ecological restoration facilities,” Mr. Wang said. The project originally was slated to be finished by last summer’s Olympics.
The central route, one of three planned large water projects, is designed to divert 44.8 billion cubic meters of water each year from the Han River, a major tributary of the Yangtze, to supply Beijing and Tianjin.