The middle route of China's huge South-to-North Water Diversion project will be in operation by the end of this month, CCTV reported Thursday. Beijing will be the most important recipient, getting 500,000 cubic meters of water daily, but this will meet the demand of only about 5 million of Beijing's 21 million residents. The water will also be used to replenish some of the 400 small rivers and streams in the Beijing region, which have been badly depleted by the rapid growth of the city, which lies in the relatively dry, very densely populated and farmed North China Plain. If supplies are sufficient, such as in flood periods, the water will also be used to re-charge the severely drained groundwater in the region.
The water from the Yangtze Valley will also go to the port city of Tianjin, and surrounding Hebei province. Hebei is building four large diversion channels, to disperse the water to population centers. "The whole project will be completed before next year's flood season. That means 45 million residents in Hebei will be able to have high-quality drinking water," CCTV quoted Yuan Fu, Director of the Hebei Water Diversion Construction Committee.
Completing the project was delayed by four years, due to strict government regulations to ensure the quality of the water and remedy or prevent further pollution. It is now forbidden to build any new industries along the route and reservoirs, to ensure the safety of the drinking water.
These measures should not be seen in the same terms as Western "Green" regulations: much of the water in the first, Eastern route of the South-North project, which followed the ancient Grand Canal, was so badly polluted it could not even be used for industry.
China has been badly polluted by years of globalization. According to a study published Feb. 4, 2014 by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, at least 20% of China's severe air pollution comes from export industries, such as textiles and plastics. "36% of anthropogenic sulfur dioxide, 27% of nitrogen oxides, 22% of carbon monoxide, and 17% of black carbon, as well as primary organic carbon, emitted in China were associated with production of goods for export," the study reported.