(Yicai Global) June 12 -- Some 10 billion cubic meters of fresh water had been channeled through the first phase of the eastern and central routes of China's South-to-North Water Diversion project as of noon on June 9, the State Council said two days ago.
Things have been running smoothly, the council's SNWD office said, adding that the diversion has helped alleviate the long-standing water shortage in some northern regions.
"Data shows that water quality along the central route has consistently met the standard for second-grade surface water," said Zhang Zhongyi, chief engineer of the project, adding that it's close to first-grade quality. "Along the eastern route, water has consistently met the standards for third-grade surface water," he added.
Over the past few years, the project has seen groundwater exploitation in the northern regions fall by eight million cubic meters, while Beijing's groundwater level rose for the first time last year, climbing 0.52 meters. Excessive consumption of groundwater in the Chinese capital has been problematic in recent years, with media reports last year suggesting the city was sinking at a rate of around four inches per year.
"The South-to-North Water Diversion project significantly eased the water shortage in Beijing. Per-capita water consumption has increased from 100 cubic meters to 150 cubic meters," said Jiang Chunqin, deputy head of the city's SNWD office. "Some 70 percent of the water used in the city is supplied from the project."
Construction of the third phase of supporting works for the diversion began this year, with water drawn from the south being channeled to Beijing's 'second city center,' and the new airport by 2020. Due to support works and continuous increases in water consumption, the annual processing capacity of the first phase of the central route will increase to around 18 billion cubic meters.
Set up as a national infrastructure strategy, the SNDW project involves drawing water from the Yangtze River in southern China and sending it to dryer regions up north, the Huihai Plain and northwestern regions through three routes: central, eastern and western. The central and eastern routes, which make up the project's first phase, have already been built and are in operation. The western route is still being planned, and no construction has begun yet.