During the last year-long drought, most of Beijing’s water supply has come from 895 miles away starting from a remote part of central China at the Danjiangkou reservoir. The water flows north by canal and pipeline, passes under the yellow river and reaches, 15 days later, the water treatment plants in Beijing. Two thirds of the city’s potable water and a third of its total supply now comes from Danjiangkou.
This winter and spring, the reservoir was essential for supplying Beijing with water. No rain or snow fell in Beijing between 28th October 2017 and 17th March 2018 – by far the longest drought on record. Yet the city suffered no disruptions of supply.
The central government is exultant, because the project was built at a huge cost and some opposition. The South-to-North Water Diversion project – as it is called – is the most expensive infrastructure enterprise in the world. It is the largest transfer of water between river basins in history and China’s main response to its worst environmental threat, which is (despite all the pollution) a lack of water, and threatens the future of china’s economy.