Water, water, water

Standing over the Mekong River in Laos

Greetings River Rats,

In southern Ontario the sun has finally broke free after some heavy weeks of rain. Whenever I hear people make comments on ‘the weather’, I am always quick to reply that ‘this is not weather anymore, were talking about a climate in transition’. While Quebec, Manitoba and the southern USA have experience major flooding other regions of the world are going through the opposite extreme. It seems we either have too much water or not enough and that trend is not going to change anytime soon.

There is one country that perfectly symbolizes the struggle of the 21st challenge: manage water (too much and too little), promote economic growth while maintaining relative stability within a giant populous. That country is China.

I have long been fascinated with China and it’s relationship with water. With 1.3 billion people and some of the worlds biggest rivers, China has a long history with engineering mega projects to control the countries water supply. The three Gorges Dam is a prime example.

The Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest hydroelectric project. The massive project set records for the number of people displaced (more than 1.2 million), number of cities and towns flooded (13 cities, 140 towns, 1,350 villages), and the length of reservoir (more than 600 kilometers). Plagued by corruption, spiraling costs, environmental impacts, human rights violations and resettlement difficulties, for all it’s criticism the Three Gorges Dam is also a engineering marvel. The perfect example of what human beings are willing to do to control water.

When I heard about the South-North Water Diversion Project I was not shocked. This plan is China’s next mega project to control water. I read about it this morning in the New York Times and felt compelled to share it with you.

“The engineering feat, called the South-North Water Diversion Project, is China’s most ambitious attempt to subjugate nature. It would be like channeling water from the Mississippi River to meet the drinking needs of Boston, New York and Washington. Its $62 billion price tag is twice that of the Three Gorges Dam.” Read more here.

map of the diversion project

Water is truly the oil of the 21st century. If you thought humans needed oil, just wait and see what people will do for water and look no further than our own backyard. Be aware that such mega water diversion projects like China’s South-North Water Diversion will one day be hot topics of debate in North America as regions continue to experience too much or too little water. It could be reversing the flow of the Great Lakes into the Mississippi River before diverting that water into the parched southwest or reversing the flow of great northern rivers to our friends due south – whatever the plan, I am just warning you that such schemes will come to the forefront sooner rather than later.

Something to think about anyways.


One thought on “Water, water, water
  1. Thanks for sharing Brett. This is indeed a problem. I am Australian. You should check out the Mary river project, QLD site that has been quashed. My relatives tell me that there is also, a site in QLD, where a huge amount of water has been cordoned off from the people, U.S. style, for the use of a mega farm owned by outside interests. Apparently, this went through in secret.
    This is very important and timely info that you are sharing.
    p.s Seems there is no video!!

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