Companies around the world are lining up for a shot at capitalizing on China's biggest-ever canal project, the south-to-north water diversion project.
Overseas companies including some in Germany, Japan and France have extended their willingness to get involved, Han Yifang, a senior official with the Ministry of Water Resources.
Some electronic machinery firms and pump manufacturers in Shanghai, central China's Henan Province, and north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, have contacted the ministry for more information about the project.
The long-awaited project, aiming to channel water from Yangtze River to the drought-prone north, is expected to be officially launched next year.
"It is really a precious opportunity for our company," an unnamed manager with Shanghai-based Electronic Machinery Co. Ltd. was quoted as saying. The company was one of the leading domestic machinery manufacturers.
The first two phases of the grand project will invite worldwide public bidding.
The canals are designed to take 38 to 48 billion cubic meters of water form Yangtze River annually. About 30 to 35 million cubic meters of which would be available for industries, urban areas and irrigation in north China upon completion of the canals.
The project will spur demands for a huge amount of raw materials and equipment, including steel, cement, metal, pumps, pipelines and machinery, said Song Naigong, director of Agriculture Forestry Water Conservancy Projects Department of China International Engineering Consulting Corp.
Even laid-off workers may have a share of the cake. They are looked at as a large potential resource for service companies as the canal would run through Henan Province and north China's Hebei Province where deficit-ridden state-owned enterprises with redundant staff are located.
Chen Chuanyou, one of the project initiators, said that the most lucrative market will be the sewage disposal industry.
The eastern stretch of the canal, which goes through east China's Jiangsu and Shandong provinces, and Hebei Province, covers the most water-polluted regions in the country.
About 70 percent of the rivers and lakes along the middle route of the scheme including Beijing, Tianjin, and part of Hebei Province, are polluted to different degrees.
"Water pollution control is a long-term program which takes a lot of money," said Song, adding that overseas companies have overwhelming advantages in sewage disposal for they boast sufficient funds, advanced technology and rich experience.