North – South

South-North Water Transfer Project, China

The North of China plays home to more than half of China’s entire population but has only 20% of the nation’s water resources. To sort out this imbalance, China has funded the building of three large canals, each more than 600 miles in length, and will ferry water to the North from the country’s largest rivers. This mega project has a construction schedule spanning 48 years.

Worth more than $62 billion, the South-North Water Transfer Project is projected to divert 44.8 cubic meters of water per annum from the Yangtze River in the south to Yellow River Basic in the arid North. 

The project will also displace hundreds of thousands of residents. Just recently, an estimated 330,000 people were relocated to pave the way for the extension of the Danjiangkou reservoir, which symbolizes the start of the project’s central route. And while the resettlement scheme included several improvements over the Three Gorges dam project, it was eventually fulfilled against the resistance of affected residents.

This megaproject goal is to limit the withdrawal of groundwater and, instead, supply more water to the industries, towns, and China’s food basket in the North. As per the initial plans, the government completed the Eastern and Central routes by the end of 2014. The controversial Western route is set to be completed in 2050.

However, many are concerned that the project could aggravate water pollution issues in the northern cities of Beijing and Tenjin. Pollution from industries along the Eastern course may render the water unfit to consume.