Minimize Negative Impacts Before the Water Project

China is quickening its pace for water project preparation. Some problems are being carefully studied to ensure the south-to-north water transfer project carried out successfully, Deputy Ma Ronghua from the Hubei Delegation of the National People’s Congress (NPC) said during this year’s NPC session.

Ma is secretary of the municipal Party committee of Ezhou City. Years of work along the Yangtze River have made him an expert on the subject.

The south-to-north project will channel surplus Yangtze River water to the drought-stricken north of the country. Yet, it will affect river water temperature, local weather, and geological features to some extent, said Ma. And this may disturb the growth of fish, influence the breeding industry, induce earthquakes, and change the eco-environment, each of them needs to be handled properly.

The water project will also reduce water availability in some southern areas. The Hanjiang Plain, one of the major commodity grain baskets in China, mainly gets its water supply from the Hanjiang River, a tributary of the Yangtze in Hubei. But the draw-off for the north will decrease the water level on the middle and lower reaches of the tributary and reduce water supply for nearby agriculture, industry, thus affect the life of local people. This, in Ma’s opinion, demands water conservancy works to transfer a certain amount of Yangtze River water into the Hanjiang River.

Pollution should be tackled before the water project gets underway, Ma continued. The Yangtze River has been contaminated for industrial and agricultural pollution and soil erosion. Forestation must be started along the river.

Ma also suggested that resettlement of people should be completed before the start of the project. They should be helped to start diversified economic activities in light with local conditions.

All these issues require specific measures by governments as early as possible, Ma said.

(CIIC by Guo Xiaohong 03/15/2001)