China has basically completed a water diversion canal that will provide emergency supplies to Beijing, the Beijing Morning News reported on Wednesday.
"In order to solve the problem of water shortage in Beijing, the construction of this water diversion project has been completed without glitches," the newspaper quoted city water bureau chief Jiao Zhizhong as saying.
The newly built 210-kilometre canal that stretches from Shijiazhuang city in neighboring Hebei province to the capital will begin operations by April, diverting up to 300 million cubic meters of water each year to Beijing, he said.
Today a shortage of water resources remains a major difficulty as Beijing has suffered nine years of drought and is facing water shortages because its underground water tables fall while water usage rises, according to the official.
"Although emergency water from the south will be diverted north, the 300 million cubic meters supplied this year, nearly 10 percent of the city's annual water demand, will not fundamentally ameliorate the current water shortages."
With the Olympics coming, water demand in the capital is expected to rise. The city is making efforts to upgrade the agricultural irrigation network, develop industrial water-saving techniques and install household water-saving facilities.
(Xinhua News Agency February 27, 2008)