Work officially began on a 58-billion-yuan ($8.7 billion) project on Thursday that will significantly boost China's ability to divert water to the dry northern parts of the country, according to the Ministry of Water Resources.
Currently, the middle route of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project is capable of transferring 9.5 billion cubic meters of water a year from the Hanjiang River, a major tributary of the Yangtze, to Beijing, Tianjin and Henan and Hebei provinces.
Stretching for almost 195 kilometers, the new project will transfer additional water from the Yangtze to Danjiangkou Reservoir, where the middle route begins, increasing annual capacity to roughly 11.5 billion cubic meters once it is completed, the ministry said in a media release.
To date, the middle and eastern routes of the South-to-North Water Diversion Project have transferred 54 billion cubic meters of water since entering operation about seven years ago, benefiting 140 million people, it added.
The project's western route is currently in the planning stages.
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