Vice-Premier Li focuses on water project


Vice-Premier Li Keqiang urged authorities to ensure that the deadline is met to complete the South-North Water Diversion Project, the ambitious plan to optimize unbalanced water resources, to alleviate a worsening shortage facing arid northern regions.
"Drought and water shortages are severe restrictions on the country's social and economic development," Li said at a working conference of the project on Wednesday. "Especially in North China, where an ever-increasing drought has hit regions in recent years."

Precipitation fell this winter, up to mid-March, by more than 40 percent in Beijing and Tianjin and groundwater is not being replaced, Li said.

Water shortages in North China will remain a feature well into the near future, but the project will solve the situation.

Other measures should also be utilized, such as conservation and combating water pollution, he said.

The massive water diversion project is designed to take water from the country's longest river, the Yangtze, in the south via an eastern, middle and western route using both canals and pipes.

The diverted water will relieve the thirst of the arid northern regions, including Beijing and Tianjin. \According to the plan, the eastern route will transfer water from East China's Jiangsu province to Tianjin, next door to Beijing, starting in 2013.

The middle route will supply water from the Danjiangkou Reservoir in Central China's Hubei province into large cities including Beijing, Tianjin, Shijiazhuang and Zhengzhou, in 2014.

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