The Ministry of Water Resources said it invested more than 5 billion yuan ($745 million) in 2018 in a water diversion project that aims to relieve severe water shortages in the central part of Yunnan province.
Another 7 billion yuan is expected to be invested this year, according to a news release provided by the ministry.
The project, approved in March, aims to draw water from a section of the Jinsha River in Yunnan’s northwest to its central cities, including Chuxiong, Yuxi and Kunming. The area, which contains about one-third of the province’s population, contributed more than half of the province’s GDP, but has been severely hampered by a lack of water resources.
The total cost of the project is estimated at 82.6 billion yuan, and the time for construction will be 96 months, the ministry said. Construction has begun at about 90 percent of the planned project sites, it said.
When finished, the project is expected to break the bottleneck of economic development in the region, and help improve its aquatic ecosystem.
By the ministry’s estimate, about 3.4 billion cubic meters of water will be diverted to the region annually by 2040 as a supplementary resource for residents and industries.
The diversion is the largest of its kind in scale and investment in Southwest China. As a result of the region’s difficult geology, which is unfriendly to construction, it is also among the most demanding projects ever to be undertaken, the ministry said.
In addition to supplementing the region’s water supply, the 664-kilometer diversion project will help improve the ecology of rivers and lakes, it said.
The Jinsha River is an upper section of the Yangtze River, the longest in Asia and the third-longest in the world. It flows through the provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan and Yunnan in Western China.