Construction began on the central section of China's south-north water diversion project which will divert water from the Yangtze River to Beijing. The central section of the project is intended to divert as much as 44.8 billion cubic meters of water from the Yangtze River in China's south to the Beijing region in the north via three canals. Beijing and the area surrounding it have been suffering from a severe water shortage for years.
The Chinese government said that it expected the central section of the project to attract investment of US$11 billion. The first phase of the central section is scheduled to begin diverting water from the Yangtze to Beijing before 2010.
Beijing currently has 300 cubic meters of water per capita per annum. The international benchmark for a city or area suffering acute water shortage is 1000 cubic meters per capita per annum or less.