China to build canal to replenish water supplies on South-North Water Diversion Project

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China's State Council has approved the building of a canal to replenish water supplies on China's South-North Water Diversion project, the project management said Friday.

The 6 billion-yuan project (878 million U.S. dollars) will be 67.23 km long and link two major tributaries of the Yangtze River, China's longest river.

The canal's construction, financed by the central government, will begin by the end of March, said Guo Zhigao, an official with the South-North Water Diversion Project Construction Administration of Hubei Province.

China's South-North Water Diversion Project is designed to divert water from the water-rich south of the country to the dry north.

The huge water diversion project consists of eastern, central and western routes.

The central route of the project is designed to divert water from Danjiangkou Reservoir on Hanjiang River, the largest tributary of the Yangtze, to north China cities like Beijing and Tianjin.

According to research by Hubei provincial environmental protection bureau, the Hanjiang River will only have one third of its average runoff after the water is diverted, meaning the river will have a much lower self-purification ability.

Guo said the canal project will bring water from Jingjiang River, another Yangtze's tributary, to Hanjiang. The canal will have a maximum diversion ability of 500 cubic meters per second.

Shen Xiaoli, senior engineer with the Hubei Environmental Sciences Institute, said the canal will help reduce biological problems, such as algae pollution, the reduced water runoff on Hanjiang River may cause.

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