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South-to-north water set to flow next year

(Xinhua)

10:04, February 06, 2012

China's massive project to divert water from the south to its arid north will be partially completed this year and will start flowing in 2013, according to a water conservancy official in the eastern Shandong Province.

"About 6 billion yuan (US$952.8 million) will be spent to complete civil construction in Shandong Province before the end of this year, so as to ensure the entire project becomes operational in the first half of 2013," said Sun Yifu, deputy water resources chief in Shandong Province.

Sun also heads the provincial construction management bureau of the water diversion project.

He said the province aims to pass the state's acceptance tests for seven pumping stations and 24 pivotal engineering projects, including a tunnel beneath the Yellow River.

The first batch of 18 water supply units will be operational next year, and the remaining 23 units completed by 2015, said Sun.

China's south-to-north water diversion project consists of three routes - the eastern, middle and western. Shandong has been building part of the eastern route, which runs 1,467 kilometers, since 2002. As of the end of 2011, investment had totaled 15.8 billion yuan.

The project was first conceived by late Chinese leader Mao Zedong in 1952 and the State Council, or China's Cabinet, approved the project in December 2002 after debates that lasted nearly a half century.

The project, with an estimated total cost of 500 billion yuan, has aroused concerns over land use, possible regional climate changes, environmental damage, impact on agriculture and population relocations.

The project plans to divert 44.8 billion cubic meters of water annually from the Yangtze through eastern, middle and western routes to relieve water shortages in north China by 2050.

Its central route, the construction of which began in 2003, should be operational in 2014.

Construction has not begun on the western route.

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