Log In Start studying!

Select your language

Suggested languages for you:
StudySmarter - The all-in-one study app.
4.8 • +11k Ratings
More than 3 Million Downloads
Free
|
|

South-North Water Transfer Project

South-North Water Transfer Project

The Central Route

The Eastern Route is not yet complete, although construction has been ongoing since late 2002. The goal of the Eastern Route is to divert water from the Yangtze River to parts of northern China, especially to major cities like Tianjin. In fact, as of 2017, water has reached Tianjin.

The Eastern Route is largely an upgrade and overhaul to parts of a pre-existing canal called 'the Grand Canal,' the origins of which stretch all the way back to the 5th century BC.

Unlike the Grand Aqueduct, the Grand Canal makes use of pumping stations to enable water to flow. In fact, the completed project is expected to include over 20 pumping stations and will span over 1,100 kilometres.

The Western Route

Construction on the Western Route has not yet begun.

Hypothetically, the Western Route would divert water from several tributary rivers of the Yangtze River in southwestern China and channel that water toward the Yellow River, for the purpose of sending more water toward northern regions like Inner Mongolia, Qinghai, and Gansu.

A major issue prohibiting the construction of the Western Route is the fact that these tributary rivers extend outside of Chinese territory. The Mekong River, a massive river in and of itself, provides water for much of southeast Asia, including Vietnam, Thailand, and Cambodia. Similarly, the Brahmaputra River flows through India and Bangladesh. Under current plans for the Western Route, a significant amount of water would be diverted away from other countries in Asia.

South-North Water Transfer Project China cost

Diverting rivers is not cheap. Building and maintaining canals, dams, and pumping stations cost a great deal of money. Thus far, the project has cost upwards of £65 billion. The Eastern route is not complete, and construction on the Western Route has not even started!

As the project creates new aquatic landscapes, there are financial benefits to reap. The engineering feats promote tourism, and new access to water supports economic needs (water for crops, drinking water, industrial water) and water-based leisure (such as fishing).

Environmental impact of the South-North Water Transfer Project in China

Ideally, the South-North Water Transfer Project should simultaneously resolve drought issues in the north and flooding problems in the south. Though the project remains incomplete, the successful diversion of water via the Central Route suggests the hypothetical goal may be achievable.

However, the environmental impact of the South-North Water Transfer Project has been mixed. On the one hand, the diversion of water to arid parts of northern China has aided parched northern ecosystems and agriculture. On the other hand, it has drained parts of the Han River. And despite regulations, the Central Route has also been polluted because some tributary rivers are often used as dumping grounds.

Water and waste from the canals have leaked into local pipelines along the routes. There is concern that waterborne diseases may be transported from the south to the north, although water treatment plants have been built to attempt to mitigate this risk. Additionally, the radical reshaping of the landscape has disrupted natural ecosystems, especially for fish.

South-North Water Transfer Project China pros and cons

Let's have a look at some of the pros and cons of the South-North Water Transfer Project in China.

Pros:

  • The project has successfully diverted water from southern China to northern China.
  • The project has helped to mitigate drought issues in the north and flooding issues in the south.
  • The engineering accomplishment can be a source of national pride and a reason for tourism.
  • The new access to water helps sustain northern industries and infrastructure that rely on water to function.
  • The new access to water also allows for water-based leisure activities.

Cons:

  • The project is very expensive.
  • Project construction has displaced hundreds of thousands of people.
  • The project has spread pollution.
  • There are concerns that the project will allow waterborne illnesses to spread from the south to the north.
  • The project has disrupted natural aquatic ecosystems.
  • Tributary rivers may be drained more than anticipated, as seen with the Han River.
  • The Western Route can likely not be completed without threatening the water supplies of India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, and Vietnam.

So, can the South-North Water Transfer Project serve as a case study for nations in similar situations?

Qua Baoxing, the former vice-minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development, has said that the project is not sustainable. Between the high monetary cost and spread of pollution, the project is increasingly difficult to manage, maintain, and afford.1

Alternatives to freshwater diversion include collecting and repurposing rainwater; recycling wastewater; and desalination of ocean water. But for now, China will continue to invest in the South-North Water Transfer Project, which remains one of the largest engineering feats in human history.

South-North Water Transfer Project - Key takeaways

  • The South-North Water Transfer Project is meant to divert water from southern China to northern China, which lacks water. Most of the water comes from the Yangtze River or its tributaries.
  • The project was conceived in the 1950s. Construction began in 2002.
  • The Central Route has been completed. It diverts water to Beijing. The Eastern Route is in progress. The Western Route has not been started.
  • The project has cost over £65 billion so far.
  • Although the project has so far been successful in diverting water from the south to the north, the project may be unsustainable due to its high cost and the spread of pollution.

References

  1. Yue, W. (2020, May 14). South-North Water Transfer Project not sustainable, says Chinese official. China Dialogue. Retrieved from https://chinadialogue.net/en/cities/6737-south-north-water-transfer-project-not-sustainable-says-chinese-official/
  2. Fig. 1: Yangtze River map (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Yangtze_River_Route.svg) by קרלוס הגדול (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/%D7%A7%D7%A8%D7%9C%D7%95%D7%A1_%D7%94%D7%92%D7%93%D7%95%D7%9C) licensed by CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)
  3. Fig. 3: The Central Route (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:South%E2%80%93North_Water_Transfer_Project_Central_route_starting_point_taocha.jpg) by Nsbdgc (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Special:Contributions/Nsbdgc) licensed by CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0/deed.en)

Frequently Asked Questions about South-North Water Transfer Project

The purpose of the South-North Water Transfer Project is to divert water from flood-prone southern China to drought-prone and arid northern China.

There are two large canals that move water from parts of the Yangtze River in southern China up to parts of northern China. The Central Route uses mostly gravity, while the Eastern Route moves water through pumping stations. A proposed third canal, the Western Route, has not been started yet.

The South-to-North Water Transfer Project officially began in 2002, although it had been conceptualised and planned since the early 1950s. 

The South-North Water Transfer Project is very expensive; has spread pollution; has displaced hundreds of thousands of people; has disrupted aquatic ecosystems; and may spread waterborne disease.

Because the project has been so expensive and has spread pollution, the South-North Water Transfer Project may not be sustainable. 

Final South-North Water Transfer Project Quiz

Question

Who is alleged to have said the following quote?


'There is more water in the south and less water in the north. If possible, it is okay to borrow a little.'

Show answer

Answer

Mao Zedong

Show question

Question

What is a top-down approach? 

Show answer

Answer

In a top-down approach, leaders make decisions and provide instruction to subordinates.

Show question

Question

In the South-North Water Transfer Project, most of the water is being diverted from which river and its tributaries? 

Show answer

Answer

Yangtze River

Show question

Question

Where does the Central Route begin? 

Show answer

Answer

The Central Route begins in the Danjiangkou Reservoir.

Show question

Question

The Eastern Route is largely an upgrade of which older system? 

Show answer

Answer

Grand Canal

Show question

Question

True or False: Construction on the Western Route has not yet begun. 

Show answer

Answer

True!

Show question

Question

About how many people were displaced as a result of construction on the Central Route? 

Show answer

Answer

Approximately 330,000 people were displaced as a result of construction on the Central Route.

Show question

Question

When did construction on the South-North Water Transfer Project begin? 

Show answer

Answer

2002

Show question

Question

True or False: Plans for the Western Route may negatively affect water supplies in South Korea.

Show answer

Answer

False! The Western Route may negatively affect water supplies in Southeast Asia and in South Asia, far from South Korea.

Show question

Question

True or False: The canals have not spread pollution. 

Show answer

Answer

False! Pollution can enter through polluted tributaries, which can then leak out into local water supplies.

Show question

Question

Approximately how much money has the South-North Water Transfer Project cost so far? 

Show answer

Answer

So far, the project has cost upwards of £65 billion.

Show question

Question

The Central Route has successfully diverted water to which major Chinese city?

Show answer

Answer

The Central Route has brought water to Beijing. 

Show question

Question

The Eastern Route has brought water to which major Chinese city? 

Show answer

Answer

The Eastern Route has brought water to Tianjin. 

Show question

Question

Which of the following are suitable alternatives to diverting freshwater? Select all that apply. 

Show answer

Answer

Collecting rainwater

Show question

60%

of the users don't pass the South-North Water Transfer Project quiz! Will you pass the quiz?

Start Quiz

Discover the right content for your subjects

No need to cheat if you have everything you need to succeed! Packed into one app!

Study Plan

Be perfectly prepared on time with an individual plan.

Quizzes

Test your knowledge with gamified quizzes.

Flashcards

Create and find flashcards in record time.

Notes

Create beautiful notes faster than ever before.

Study Sets

Have all your study materials in one place.

Documents

Upload unlimited documents and save them online.

Study Analytics

Identify your study strength and weaknesses.

Weekly Goals

Set individual study goals and earn points reaching them.

Smart Reminders

Stop procrastinating with our study reminders.

Rewards

Earn points, unlock badges and level up while studying.

Magic Marker

Create flashcards in notes completely automatically.

Smart Formatting

Create the most beautiful study materials using our templates.

Sign up to highlight and take notes. It’s 100% free.