Planned water conservation projects encouraged to go ahead
Efforts will be made to ensure that all water conservation projects proposed several years ago are launched by 2020, the Ministry of Water Resources said on Thursday.
A small number of projects requiring in-depth research will account for those not started, the ministry said.
Most of the key water conservation projects will be completed and will play a significant role in improving flood and drought prevention and control by 2025, Wang Annan, chief planner of the ministry, said at a State Council Information Office news conference.
The central authorities decided in 2014 to establish 172 major water conservation projects. To date, 134 have been approved, Wang said, while 132 have started construction, including 23 that have been completed.
The investment in the ongoing construction of water conservation projects exceeds 1 trillion yuan ($145 billion), he added.
Among the 132 projects that have commenced, 75 percent are in central and western regions and 56 percent are in poverty-stricken areas. All have played an important role in accelerating regional development and poverty alleviation, Wang said.
Key water conservancy projects can effectively drive the development of relevant industries, accelerate employment and increase the income of farmers, he added.
Wang said the first phases of the middle and eastern routes of the South-to-North Water Diversion project have transferred 22 billion cubic meters of water.
The project has provided adequate and reliable water sources for Beijing and Tianjin and 33 cities in North China, significantly improved the environment along the routes, and reduced the exploitation of groundwater, he said.
The water diversion project, the world's largest－with an estimated cost of 500 billion yuan－is designed to take water from China's longest river, the Yangtze, through eastern, middle and western routes to feed dry areas in the north.
The middle route is the most attention-grabbing of the three due to its role in bringing water to the Chinese capital. It started supplying water on Dec 12, 2014. It begins at the Danjiangkou Reservoir in Central China's Hubei province and runs through Henan and Hebei provinces before reaching Beijing and Tianjin.
The first phase of the eastern route started operation in November 2013, transporting water to Shandong province. The western route has not yet opened.
Another key water conservancy project, the Three Gorges Dam in Yichang, Hubei, has generated more than 1 trillion kWh of clean electricity since being launched in 1993, Wang said.
The total ship lock throughput at the dam has reached 1.11 billion metric tons, with yearly throughput exceeding 130 million tons, seven times the volume before the dam was built, he said.