Beijing’s answer to thirst? Move rivers
A massive project will essentially rearrange China’s water supply.
It might be the most ambitious construction project in China since the Great Wall.
The Chinese government is planning to reroute the nation’s water supply, bringing water from the flood plains of the south and the snowcapped mountains of the west to the parched capital of Beijing.
First envisioned by Mao Tse-tung in the 1950s and now coming to fruition, the South-North Water Diversion, as it is inelegantly known in English, has a price tag of more than $62 billion, twice as expensive as the famous Three Gorges Dam. It is expected to take decades to complete.
“This is on a par with the Great Wall, a project essential for the survival of China,” said Wang Shushan, who heads the project in Henan province, where much of the construction is now taking place. “It is a must-do project. We can’t afford to wait.”
Even by the standards of a country where moving heaven and Earth is all in a day’s work, it is a project of enormous hubris. In effect, the Chinese are “replumbing” the entire country, says Orville Schell, a China scholar and an environmentalist, something “no country has
A massive project will reroute the country’s water, bringing it from the south to Beijing via three canals. The 766-mile middle route will include an aqueduct built under the polluted Yellow River.
TUNNEL VISION: Engineer Han Jiping in an aqueduct being built in China’s Henan province. Water will be rerouted from the wet south to the dry north.