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Nations mark opening of joint water project

By Hou Liqiang (China Daily)

10:05, July 09, 2013

The first joint water diversion project on the river that borders China and Kazakhstan went into operation late last week to irrigate more than 30,000 hectares of farmland for the two countries.

The China-Kazakhstan Friendship Joint Water Diversion Project is 27 kilometers away from the Khorgos Port and is built on the Khorgos River, which serves as the boundary line between the two countries.

Designed by Kazakhstan and built by China, the project can draw at least 50 cubic meters of water per second to be equally shared by each nation. Likewise, both paid an equal amount for the $9.56 million investment. The project began on April 15, 2011.

"We believe this is just the beginning and there will be greater cooperation between our two countries with the water project," said Ondasyn Iyenkulov, deputy chairman of the Water Resources Committee Under the Ministry of Environment Protection of Kazakhstan, at a ceremony to celebrate the completion of the project.

The Khorgos River, 148 km in length, rises in the Aktas, an offshoot of the Tianshan Mountains, and flows southward from Kazakhstan, forming a boundary with the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region.

The river has an annual runoff of 540 million cubic meters and covers a drainage area of more than 1,600 sq km.

Zhang Xingfu, deputy head of water resources bureau of the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps, said that before the project was completed, old canals on the river were damaged in floods.

"We have to repair the heads (of the canals) every year," Zhang said. "The project guarantees the amount of water between both nations. It will help our ability to prevent floods from once every 10 years to once every 50 years."

Erlan Nysanbayev, vice-minister of environment protection of Kazakhstan, said after the completion ceremony that "the project solved many problems. Before the project was built, we didn't know how much water each side used. Now we can make better use of the water resource of the Khorgos River".

The project's completion would not have happened had it not been for the close cooperation between China and Kazakhstan, said Jiao Yong, Chinese vice-minister of water resources.

"The project has great significance. It reflects the Sino-Kazakh political mutual trust and is a landmark project for China-Kazakhstan friendship and cooperation," he said.

Jiao added that the two countries will soon sign an agreement for the joint management and operation of the project.

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