Chinese engineers are testing techniques that could be used to build a 1,000km tunnel – the world’s longest – to carry water from Tibet to Xinjiang, experts involved in the project say…Full Article: South China Morning Post Oct 2017

Key Points

  • The proposed Tibet-Xinjiang water tunnel would connect southern Tibet’s Yarlung Tsangpo River to Xinjiang’s Taklimakan Desert. An estimated 10 billion to 15 billion MTs of water would be diverted each year.
  • In August 2017, Yunnan Province began construction of a ~600 km long tunnel project. Once completed, the Yunnan tunnel project would be able to transport an estimated 3 billion MTs of water annually from northwestern Yunnan to the province’s central region. The project will cost an estimated USD 11.7 billion and is forecasted to create ~30,000 hectares of farmland.

ChinaAg Comments

  • From December 2014 to early June 2017, according to the Beijing Waterworks Group, Beijing had received approximately 2.28 billion cubic meters of water (via the South-to-North Water Transfer Project, aka SNWDP) from the Yangtze River. As of mid-2017, more than 70% of Beijing’s urban areas tap water comes from the Yangtze River.
  • In April 2016, China’s State Council approved a regulation regarding the construction/operation of irrigation systems, including the implementing anti-leak measures and measuring water usage. The State Council is hoping to eventually implement a tiered pricing system for irrigation water.
  • In January 2016, China’s State Council published guidelines on instituting a tiered pricing system for water usage. These guidelines included stipulations that cash crop farmers and livestock companies would be charged a higher price based on their respective goods garnering higher values in the market place. Additionally, prices for groundwater would be higher than surface water if the former is in low supply.
  • In 2015, China needed 1 cubic meter of water to produce 1 kg of grain, which is below the average of 1.2 kg to 1.4 kg for developed nations.
  • In December 2014, China’s South-to-North Water Diversion Project (SNWDP) began operation (middle route) and was expected to roughly triple Henan’s wheat output from 150-200 kg per mu to 400-500 kg per mu (2.25-3 metric tons per hectare to 6-7.5 MTs per ha). The middle route of the water diversion project begins at the Danjiangkou Reservoir. Stretching across the Chinese Provinces of Henan and Hubei, the Danjiangkou Reservoir has a 1.7 million cubic meter capacity (9.5 billion cubic meters pumped through each year) and is tasked to supply water to Beijing and Tianjin. A total of 345,000 people were displaced to make room for the reservoir, which was the second largest relocation due to a water conservancy project (Three Gorges Dam being the first).
  • From 1980 to 2015, Beijing’s groundwater table fell from 7.24 meters deep to 25.75 meters deep. Meanwhile, from the early 1980s to 2017, Beijing’s groundwater storage decreased by 10.2 billion cubic meters.

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