HEFEI, Dec. 30 (Xinhua) -- A mega water project to divert water from the Yangtze, China's longest river, to the Huaihe River started trial operation on Friday.
The water diversion project, which is 723 km long and took six years to construct, will supply water to 15 cities in east China's Anhui Province and central China's Henan Province. It is expected to benefit more than 50 million people.
Friday morning also saw the start of the construction of the second phase of this mega project -- with an investment of 20.41 billion yuan (about 2.93 billion U.S. dollars).
The total investment in the first phase surpassed 94.91 billion yuan.
Besides supplying water for residents and developing shipping, this project will also be used for agricultural irrigation and will help improve the ecological environment of both the Huaihe River and Chaohu Lake.
According to Zhang Xiaowu, president of Anhui Provincial Group Limited for Yangtze-to-Huaihe Water Diversion, the project will supply over 500 million cubic meters of water to Chaohu Lake annually, helping restore the ecology of the lake. It can also transfer water to the trunk stream of the Huaihe River, in order to prevent it from drying up.
This complex water project overcame multiple technical difficulties during construction and also took biodiversity conservation into consideration. The channel was moved westward to make way for migratory birds, while multiple passageways were built to facilitate fish migration.