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Yellow River pours out support for Olympics
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The eastern coastal city of Qingdao, co-host of the 2008 Olympic Games sailing event, has begun to store water from the Yellow River for use during the 15-day games.

The sluice gates of the Yellow River water diversion project opened at 8 a.m. on Tuesday at Boxing County in eastern Shandong Province. Qingdao, which is 300 km away, is expected to receive 160 million cubic meters of fresh water from the Yellow River this time, almost equal to the annual consumption of the city's urban areas.

Water moved to Qingdao through a channel at 25 cubic meters per second and is expected to arrive at the Jihongtan reservoir in suburban Qingdao in 10 days, said Liu Jing, senior engineer with the Shandong office of the Yellow River Engineering Bureau.

Liu said the water will be saved for domestic and industrial use and will alleviate water supply pressures on Qingdao during the 2008 Olympics.

More than 600 km southeast of Beijing, greater Qingdao covers an area of 10,654 square km, facing the Yellow Sea. It has a population of 7.49 million, more than one-third of whom reside in its urban areas.

The famous vacation resort faces limited fresh water supplies as a result of its geography. The shortfalls have been exacerbated over the past decade as its population and economy have grown.

According to the city's water-conservation office, the city's annual water consumption is about 1.7 million cubic meters, almost double the level of the early 1990s. Average per capita water resources are just 342 cubic meters, or one-seventh of the national level.

To guarantee supplies, Shandong began obtaining water from the Yellow River in 1989. The urban districts of Qingdao have received more than 1.1 billion cubic meters of water so far.

In addition, Qingdao has been working on seawater desalination projects. The city plans to build nine desalination plants by 2010 with total daily production of 200,000 tons of potable water.

Up to 400 athletes and 270 sailboats are expected to compete in nine classes at the 2008 Olympics sailing events.

Construction of the Qingdao Olympic Sailing Center, the venue of the Olympic sailing competition, was completed in June 2006. It has hosted several successful test competitions.

(Xinhua News Agency November 22, 2007)

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