China diverts river water to Olympics rowing site

BEIJING Sun Oct 21, 2007 11:28pm EDT

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BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing has had to divert water from a willow-lined river northeast of the city to replenish its Olympics rowing and canoeing venue which has run dry, Xinhua news agency said on Monday.

The municipal government had spent about 430 million yuan ($57 million) to divert water 13 km (eight miles) from the Wenyu river to the Chaobei river which had run dry for nine consecutive years, Xinhua cited deputy director of the Shunyi district reform and development commission Qin Yongjun as saying.

The Olympic rowing and canoeing centre in Shunyi was built especially for next August's Games and features a 3-km rowing lake which holds 1.7 million cubic metres of water.

Beijing sits in the arid north China plain, where water tables are falling fast due to climate change and rising consumption by farmers and booming cities.

The country has embarked on massive engineering projects to divert water from rivers feeding the south to the dry north.

It is also starting to address the serious problem of pollution of water supplies from untreated city sewage, industrial waste and farm run-off.

Xinhua said Shaanxi province, in the northwest, will build ten sewage disposal plants to reduce pollution in the Weihe River, the largest tributary of the Yellow River.

By 2010, it plans to build 40 sewage plants along the Weihe River, which receives more than 800 million tonnes of sewage and wastewater annually.

The Weihe accounts for about 18 percent of the discharges in the Yellow River basin, the source of irrigation and drinking water for millions of people in the north.

($1=7.508 Yuan)

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