Quenching the Dragon's Thirst: The South-North Water Transfer Project -- Old Plumbing for New China?

by Carla Oman

Jan 1, 2011
As the legend goes, when a man named Yu heeded the dragon's instructions about how to channel flood waters, he tamed China's rivers and was made emperor. China's rulers have long understood the critical importance of water in ensuring their country's prosperity -- and the link between how effectively they manage these resources and their own political longevity. The pressures for efficient management of water today is similarly challenging as in the past -- China's government must possess the ability to maintain the hydraulic systems necessary to mitigate flooding from China's great rivers but also to ensure an adequate supply of water for the needs of its people. As Joseph Needham in his epic history Science and Civilization in China observed, the challenges of flood control and of maintaining irrigation and water transportation networks, among other dimensions of water management, served as sources of innovation in Chinese civilization as it developed, stimulating technological invention and intellectual debate.


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