China Building New Grand Canals

Red lines show the new canals that are being built

The Grand Canal of China, also known as the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal is the longest ancient canal or artificial river in the world. Starting at Beijing it passes through Tianjin and the provinces of Hebei, Shandong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang to the city of Hangzhou. The oldest parts of the canal date back to the 5th century BC, although the various sections were finally combined into one during the Sui Dynasty (581–618 AD).

BBC News reports China has begun relocating people for the next stage of major work on a modern $62 billion water diversion project which will provide more water to Beijing, Tainjin and Weihai and other northern provinces. 330,000 people are being relocated to make way for one section of the canals.

The Grand Canal is currently being upgraded to serve as the Eastern Route of the South-North Water Transfer Project.

From Ritchiewiki, China has about seven percent of the world’s water resources and roughly 20 percent of its population. About four-fifths of the country’s water supply is in the south. The water transfer project has been divided into three separate sections: Eastern, Central, and Western routes. It will divert 58 billion cubic yards (44 billion cubic meters) of water annually, thereby providing the drier north with a more reliable water source. The project was discussed with severe scrutiny for 50 years before being approved by China’s State Council on August 23, 2002. The construction is expected to take almost as long, with an estimated completion date of 2050. Water is expected to flow from the Yangtze and its tributaries to Beijing in 2014 along the central route.

The South-North Water Transfer Project is described at wikipedia.

The Eastern route will supply water to Shandong Province and the north part of Jiangsu. Construction of the Eastern route began in December 2002

The Central route will supply water to Hebei, Henan, Beijing and Tianjin. The completed line will be approximately 785.5 miles (1,264 km) long, initially providing 12.5 billion cubic yards (9.5 billion m^3) of water annually. By 2030, it is expected to increase its water transfer to 16 to 17 billion cubic yards (12 to 13 billion m^3) annually.

The Western route is the most challenging and also controversial of all the diversion lines. This route is designed to bring five billion cubic yards (3.8 billion m^3) of water from three tributaries of the Yangtze River (Tontian, Yalong and Dadu), nearly 300 miles (483 km) across the Bayankala Mountains to northwest China. The diversion of this water could affect a number of other nations, including Burma, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, who rely on this water downstream.


The 2008 global desalination industry had 13,869 plants providing 52 million cubic meters of water per day (19 billion cubic meters per year)

1.8 to 2 billion cubic meters per year of desalination capacity is being installed each year.

Desalination currently costs about 40 to 55 cents per cubic meter.

The equivalent desalination value of 10 billion cubic meters/year of Chinese water diversion (by 2015) would be $4 billion/year at the 40 cents per cubic meter. The full 44 billion cubic meters/year would be $18 billion/year at 40 cents per cubic meter or $9 billion/year if future desalination prices were halved.

Siemens beat 35 other groups with a unique spin on desalination.

Using electricity instead of high-pressure or heat to remove salt from seawater, the team produced a metric cube of pure drinking water – with 1.5 kWh.

Advanced desalination methods around the world currently use twice that amount of energy.

Recycled water, also known here as Newater, requires 0.7kWh to produce.

By passing seawater through electric fields, salt is drawn out – the complete opposite of conventional methods which push water through a membrane, explained Siemens vice-president of R&D Ruediger Knauf.