BEIJING: China has diverted 10 billion cubic metres of water from the south to its drought-prone northern regions including Beijing, which are home to 53.1 million people.
It has constructed the world's longest canal and pipeline network spanning 1,400 km to achieve that feat.
The water pumped from the Yangtze river goes to Beijing, Tianjin and the provinces of Henan and Hebei along the middle route of the water diversion project, the South-to-North Water Diversion Office under the State Council said.
The project was conceived by Chinese leader Mao Zedong in 1952 but delayed due to environmental and resettlement consideration. It was only approved by the State Council in December 2002, after half a century of debate.
It has been hailed in China's official media as an example of how Chinese people are capable of bettering their lives through hard work.
But the new waterway presents fresh challenges, such as the protection of water quality from unforeseen natural risks in the future.
It is the second biggest water project undertaken by China after the Three Gorges dam, regarded as the world's biggest hydropower dam.
The middle route of the project carries water through canals and pipes from the Danjiangkou reservoir in central China's Hubei province. It began operation in late 2014.
The project has supplied 2.7 billion cubic metres of water to Beijing, serving 11 million people there.
Currently about 70 per cent of Beijing's water supply comes from the project. The city's per capita water resources have increased from 100 to 150 cubic metres. Previously, the city's water supply came mainly from underground water.
Tianjin got 2.2 billion cubic metres of water while Henan and Hebei provinces got 3.5 billion cubic metres and 1.1 billion cubic meters, respectively.
Officials in the South-to-North Water Diversion Office said the project has played "an indispensable strategic role" in helping the north overcome its water shortage, improve water quality and ecology, build a resource-conserving society, and prevent natural disasters.