Almost 50b cubic meters of water diverted by project

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Almost 50b cubic meters of water diverted by project(图1)
Workers take water samples for quality monitoring at a middle-route section of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project in Pingdingshan, Henan province, on Dec 10, 2021. 

A massive Chinese water diversion project has transferred about 49.4 billion cubic meters of water to the country's drought-prone north over the past seven years-roughly equal to the annual runoff of the Yellow River, the country's second-longest river-the Ministry of Water Resources said on Sunday.

In a news release issued to mark the seventh anniversary of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project-dating back to the opening of its middle route-the ministry said it now provides water to 40 medium-sized and large cities and has benefited 140 million people.

Seventy percent of tap water in Beijing comes from the project, and all urban residents in Tianjin have access to water from it, the ministry said.

"The project has greatly enhanced the water supply capabilities of cities along the project," said water resources expert Wang Hao, an academician with the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

He said the project had helped lift the amount of water stored in the Miyun Reservoir, Beijing's main source of drinking water, to a record high of almost 3.4 billion cu meters on Aug 24.

In Hebei province, over 5 million people in the Heilonggang River basin are no longer reliant on water with high levels of fluorine, which can be harmful to human health, the ministry said.

As a resident of Wanglou village in the basin, Zhang Haiying is keenly aware of the changes brought about by the project. She told People's Daily, "The water from the project is not only soft but also sweet."

Zhang added that she has also found a lot less scale in containers she uses to heat water.

The ministry said the project has not only greatly remediated the ecosystems in many watercourses, but has also halted groundwater depletion in many areas.

It said the middle route of the project has diverted 44.1 billion cu meters of water, with 7 billion cu meters sent to 50 rivers. Many water bodies in North China have been rejuvenated, the ministry said, "with water resumed in their watercourses and plants coming back to their banks".

Water diverted by the plan meant that for the first time in 25 years, there was water in all the sections of the 865-kilometer Yongding River in Beijing from August to September this year.

The ministry said the average level of shallow groundwater in North China had increased by 0.23 meters between 2019 and 2020, adding that plain terrain in Beijing had seen a general rise in groundwater levels for six straight years.

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