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Special interview with water project inspector Tang Xianqi

China.org.cnUpdated: July 13, 2019

On July 5, Tang Xianqi, an inspector at the Tianjin Municipal Water Bureau, gave a special interview regarding how Tianjin would take full advantage of the South-to-North water diversion project.

Since the central route of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project was completed more than four years ago, a total of more than 3.9 billion cubic meters of water has been safely transported to Tianjin. Tang said, the Tianjin Municipal Water Bureau has vigorously promoted the development of the water-saving industry, continuously propelled the construction of relevant supporting projects, gradually standardized the operation of the water diversion project, and continuously expanded the coverage of water delivery.

Summing up the benefits of the water diversion project, he said, "The project has been providing strong support for the economic and social development of Tianjin."

The project has also effectively alleviated water shortage. "Before the central route project was put into use, we used to divert water mainly from the Luan River, and it was pretty much living on the providing of Heaven. The utilization rate of surface water was up to almost 70%, which had far exceeded the carrying capacity of water resources. And the contradiction between supply and demand of water resources was very pressing," Tang said. Since the opening of the central route project, the total amount of water consumption and the amount of urban water consumption in Tianjin have both increased steadily, while the water supply has also increased continuously. By 2018, the central route had delivered more than 80% of urban production and living water in Tianjin, benefiting nearly 10 million people.

Thanks to the water diversion project, Tianjin now has a stable water source with sufficient supply. Water is supplied to 14 administrative districts, including the central urban area, the four districts surrounding the city, and Binhai New Area. Particularly, in the central urban area and the Binhai New Area – both core areas of Tianjin's economic development – a new pattern of water supply has been formed. It includes water sourced from the Luan River and the Yangtze River, and has effectively mitigated risks of water shortage.

The water quality has now improved from Class III to Class II and above, and the indices of chloride and sulfate are much lower than those of water diverted from the Luan River. For tap water, its turbidity has seen a sharp reduction. "We feel the water has been improved in clearness and taste, and that definitely makes us feel happier," said Tang.

The water diversion project has created favorable conditions for ecological water replenishment. In 2016, Tianjin replenished water to the Haihe River for the first time at the Ziya River. So far, 772 million cubic meters of water has been diverted to the central urban area and the four surrounding districts. Furthermore, more water now can be used for agricultural and ecological purposes. In 2018, the proportion of good water bodies in Tianjin rose to 50%, and the proportion of inferior Class V water bodies dropped to 25%, both exceeding the national assessment target.

"Groundwater was once one of the most reliable sources of water supply in Tianjin, with a historical maximum of 1 billion cubic meters," Tang said. After the operation of the central route project, Tianjin has accelerated the process of groundwater pressure recovery in Binhai New Area and the four surrounding districts, saving 64 million cubic meters of groundwater from 2015 to 2017. The city reached its 2020 goal of controlling the exploitation of deep groundwater at 211 million cubic meters, three years ahead of schedule.