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Beijing to build, expand 13 water plants by 2014
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Beijing plans to build and expand 13 facilities by 2014 to process water from the Yangtze River, with combined capacity of about 1 billion cubic meters annually, an official with the city government said Wednesday.

The municipal government will spend 26 billion yuan (about 3.8 billion U.S. dollars) on the plants, according to He Fengci, vice director of the municipal south-to-north water diversion office.

"By 2020, Beijing will receive about 1.4 billion cubic meters of water diverted from the Yangtze River annually," said the official.

Beijing has had water shortages partly because of its geography, and it has experienced a drought since 1999. It received only 75 percent of its expected precipitation since that year, said He.

Shortages are set to reach a crisis next year, when the population is expected to top 17 million, or 3 million more than its water resources can support.

The south-to-north diversion program, aiming to provide sufficient water for China's northern regions that have experienced multi-year droughts, will connect the Yangtze, Huaihe, Yellow and Haihe rivers.

It includes three water-diversion channels -- eastern, middle and western -- and will take 40 to 50 years to complete.

The central route will traverse the provinces of Hubei, Henan and Hebei and the municipalities of Tianjin and Beijing. About 402,000 people will be relocated to make way for it.

The middle route is scheduled for completion in 2013 and operation in 2014. It would be able to divert 9.5 billion cubic meters of water on average a year for more than 30 million people.

China will invest 21.3 billion yuan in the south-to-north water diversion program this year.

Total spending will include 6.5 billion yuan from the central government, 2 billion yuan from the south-to-north water diversion program fund and 12.8 billion yuan in bank loans.

(Xinhua News Agency April 29, 2009)

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