A more recent example of China's canals is the South-North Water Transfer Project, which diverts water through channels from the Yangtze to the Yellow River, relieving China's flood-prone, wetter south to help the chronically drought-ridden north. The project, which was estimated to cost over $60 billion, fulfills a dream of Mao Zedong, who once said, "Southern water is plentiful, northern water scarce. If at all possible, borrowing some water would be good." The project, which has invoked environmental concerns -- for example, many worry that the increased pollution in southern waterways could be passed north -- is projected to funnel more than 12 trillion gallons of water northward annually along three different routes by 2050.
The canal pictured is part of the diversion project in Yixian in the northern province of Hebei. Farmers in the area, like the one pictured following her flock of sheep, have faced serious drought.