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Water Diversion Benefits over 11 Mln People in Beijing

China's south-to-north water diversion project has benefited more than 11 million people in Beijing, authorities said.

December 27 marks the second anniversary of the middle route, which has pumped 1.94 billion cubic meters of water into Beijing in two years, according to the project office.

More than 1.3 billion cubic meters went to water supply companies in the municipality, 280 million cubic meters was stored in reservoirs, and the rest was used as groundwater, river and lake supplies in downtown areas, said office director Sun Guosheng.

Currently, daily waterflow to Beijing from the project is about 3.4 million cubic meters.

"The water diversion has relieved the pressure on Beijing's water supply," Sun said.

Before the diversion, Beijing's water sources, mainly from underground, were susceptible to incrustation from calcium and magnesium salts.

The middle route of the south-to-north water diversion project carries 9.5 billion cubic meters of water each year through canals and pipes from the Danjiangkou reservoir in central China's Hubei Province to the provinces of Henan and Hebei as well as Beijing.

The water transfer project was conceived by Mao Zedong in 1952. The State Council approved the project in December 2002 after nearly half a century of debate.

One of the world's biggest cities, Beijing is in dire need of water. Between 1999 and 2011, the city's average annual precipitation was only 480 millimeters, and its per capita water resources are only about 100 cubic meters, about one-twentieth of the national average and one-eightieth of the global average.

The diverted water, which supplies downtown areas and parts of the suburbs, increased the per capita amount to 150 cubic meters, said Hu Bo with the Beijing Water Authority.

It has also helped rein in excessive use of groundwater. Before the water arrived, the groundwater level of Beijing's plain dropped by around a meter per year, with groundwater of more than 6,400 square kilometers overexploited by the end of 2014.

In November, the level was more than 0.4 meter higher than a year ago, according to statistics from Beijing Water Authority.

However, Hu noted that Beijing remains thirsty as its current per capita water resources lags far behind the global standard.

"Water conservation is still an important job," he said.

(Xinhua News Agency December 27, 2016)

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