Last week The New York Times published the latest installment in its ongoing series exploring the environmental and human impact of China's epic economic growth, and from it we learn, among other things, that the country is continuing apace with the construction of “the biggest water project in the history of the world.”
Called the South-to-North Water Transfer Project, it will essential graft into the country's present hydrology three new major rivers — concretized, subterranean, gravity defying — which together will “funnel more than 12 trillion gallons northward every year along three routes from the Yangtze River basin, where water is more abundant. The project, if fully built, would be completed in 2050. The eastern and central lines are already under construction; the western line, the most disputed because of environmental concerns, remains in the planning stages.”
Dwarfing the more famous Three Gorges Dams in cost and scale, this hydroengineering colossal is China's solution to a predicted water-parched future, one that surely would derail the most dynamic economy in the world if it came to pass.
The North China Plain undoubtedly needs any water it can get. An economic powerhouse with more than 200 million people, it has limited rainfall and depends on groundwater for 60 percent of its supply. Other countries, like Yemen, India, Mexico and the United States, have aquifers that are being drained to dangerously low levels. But scientists say those below the North China Plain may be drained within 30 years.
It's a hydrological version of the Great Wall, an olympian infrastructural defensive against an impending civilization-ending crisis.
But will it work? You'll have to read the article for a complete assessment.
Hydrology vs. the Apocalypse
Notes on Some Selections from the Visual Images Database of the Mississippi Valley Division of the US Army Corps of Engineers