On Wednesday, Chinese authorities began their biggest relocation program since the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. They’re moving residents from central Hubei Province to make way for the South-North Water Diversion Project. It aims to bring water from the Yangtze River to northern cities that are prone to drought.
Water management has been a persistent problem in China’s recent development. Even as the Chinese regime spends billions building massive dams and water-diverting projects, parts of the country continue to experience chronic water shortages.
In Beijing, rapid development, a population influx and drought have been depleting the area’s water resources.
The city’s water supply used to come from two main reservoirs. But one of them became too polluted throughout the 1990s, and no longer supplies drinking water.
With Beijing’s groundwater levels also falling, authorities began to divert water from surrounding areas, like neighboring Hebei Province. Now, the central route of the ambitious South-North Water Diversion Project will displace a total of 330,000 people by 2014.
But some experts believe China’s water shortage problems stem from a deeper issue of mismanagement, and cannot be resolved by simply diverting water across the country.
Experts and conservation groups have called on Chinese leaders to rethink their water management strategies. Some have suggested addressing pollution and rampant deforestation, and focusing on water conservation instead of large infrastructure projects.
China’s total water shortage is around 1.5 trillion gallons. That’s three times the annual water supply of New York City.