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Experts confident in water diversion project's pollution regulations

2014-03-10 07:59 Xinhua Web Editor: qindexing

Chinese hydrological experts believe a new regulation on China's south-to-north water diversion project will strengthen its efforts to prevent water pollution.

China enacted a regulation last month stipulating that management of the project should prioritize conservation, pollution control and environmental protection before water diversion.

As the water expected to be supplied through the project will largely be used for daily consumption in cities, protection of the water's quality should be regarded as a key element in the project, said Li Yuanyuan, vice director of the Water Resources and Hydropower Planning and Design General Institute under the Ministry of Water Resources.

Li said there are multiple factors that may threaten water quality, including the fact that the routes of the project's diversion canals will pass through rivers, lakes and several better-developed regions in China.

Sand dredging, overloaded vehicles and waste water discharged from plants along the routes may also put the operation of the project and water quality at risk, said Jing Shuguang, an official with the South-to-North Water Diversion Office under the State Council.

Li believes the most important aspects of the regulation include stipulations to ban hazardous acts and construction work at the water sources and along the diversion routes, provisions to restrict logging, land cultivation and husbandry as well as requirements on pollutant management facilities at the sources.

Wang Hao, a research fellow with the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, noted terms in the regulation designed to tackle the complicated issues regarding administration of water use and diversion when the project is put into use.

"It may affect water resources distribution among the supplying regions and their downstream regions as well as the receiving regions," Wang said. "And it may also alter the existing hydrographic network and the lives of residents in relevant regions."

However, Wang also stressed that the project will help secure sustainable development in China's northern regions by quenching water shortages in the receiving regions, which are currently facing underground water depletion and related environmental problems.

Under the regulation, water use among regions of the diversion project will be planned as a whole while the prices will be decided by State Council departments.

It also stipulates liabilities for activities that harm water quality and the safety of facilities.

The south-to-north water diversion project was conceived by former Chairman Mao Zedong in 1952. The State Council approved the ambitious project in December 2002 after debates that lasted nearly half a century.

The project is expected to divert 44.8 billion cubic meters of water annually from the Yangtze River and relieve water shortages in north China by 2050.

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