[13] Luanhe River Diversion Project(1982-1983) | Influences on Society

The Luanhe River Diversion Project is completed in 1983. This project is an important foundation of society and economic development. It created remarkable social, environmental and political benefits. 

Social Aspect 

Before Luanhe River Diversion Project: In midsummer of 1981, there was an abnormal scene. On the street and lanes, there were residents holding bucket everywhere, seeking all sources for water. Tianjin originally is a water town with multiple rivers and lakes. However, now they could not get even a drop of clean water. Tianjin was stricken by the most serious water scarcity for a half year. People had to get water from underground. “People took salty water as pickles.“ (自來水能醃菜) 

After Luanhe River Diversion Project: In 1983, the Water Diversion Project has bought pure and clean water to Tianjin. There is positive reaction to the Luanhe River Diversion Project from the public. People call this water as “sweet water”. After the River Diversion Project was completed, the government of Tianjin gave every household two tael of tea as celebration. People did not have to drink salty water anymore. Tianjin People even see the project as a Tianjin spirit, it becomes a role model of other construction. There were various construction projects built after the completion of Luanhe River Diversion Project, for example, construction of coal gasification, railway system, highway system, renovation of old building and other public facilities.

Celebration of the completion of water diversion project
After the Water Diversion Project, people enjoyed clean water
Stamp showing the statue of 母子盼水

Economic Aspect 

Textile industry, Tianjin. 1983.
Textile industry, Tianjin, 1983

1.Promote Rapid and sustain growth of National Economic

There is 75% of water supply coming from Luanhe River Diversion Project. From the completion of project to 2002, the economic benefit of water supply to city and town is reaching to 28.9 billion dollars, and the economic benefit to agriculture is around 1.4 billion dollars. The River Diversion Project leads to sustain and rapid growth of economic development in Tianjin. During the past 20 years, gross domestic product has increased 5.38 times than before. Due to the improvement of water quality, industrial production and product quality are enhancing significantly. The quickest economic development happened in the past 20 years after the completion of Diversion Project. Since then, the level of economic development of Tianjin has became the third in China.

  1. Improve investment environment

Before diversion project, the water crisis limited the progress of foreign investment in Tianjin. Because of unreliable water supply and water quality, Tianjin had lost numerous opportunities of foreign contract. However, after the Diversion Project, investors feel more confident on the water quality and thus liberated the investment environment, attracting local and oversea investors. Tianjin is now a popular investment location for a large number of multinational corporations and megacorporation. There are 93 companies of the top 500 corporations worldwide locate their investment in Tianjin. Tianjin gradually becomes one of high return on Investment area in Asia.

  1. Develop the business of Urban Water Supply

The daily water supply was extremely low before diversion project, only six hundred thousand square meters of water was available. Moreover, water piping system was poorly done. After 1984, government had built several water treatment plants along Luanhe River to extend water piping system and region. The water supply area has increased from 284 square kilometer to 550 square kilometer. Number of beneficiary expanded from 3.49 million to 5.12 million during the past 20 years.

Political Aspect

Luanhe River Diversion Project is a political project aimed at providing health and infrastructural benefits to the people in the gain of people’s heart to support the country. It was appointed by the Party and State Council as a key project (重点工程), which was one of the socialist constructions in Tianjin city and Northern China. Luanhe River Diversion Project started construction in May 1982. The first usage of water was specifically scheduled on 1 October 1983 in remembrance/ correlation with the establishment of the nation.

Tianjin city is historically sea and land transportation hub, business center and industrial base in Northern China. It occupies an important position in economy and transportation. With the development of industry and the increase of population, water shortage in the whole North China area was under severe problem. It is clear that the economic development of North China is determined by water. In the future, things that affect the construction of North China are not a matter of energy or human resources.

The government emphasised on three ‘key features’ of the project-Good quality, high efficiency, and high speed. It also tries to educate or create an uplifting social atmosphere of endurance during hardships, perseverance to study and train hard, using scientific methods in an attempt to separate the New governance from the old system.

Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) was also employed in the project to create a narrative-Generations and generations of Hubei people will recall the sweetness and source of the water when drinking(饮水思甜, 饮水思源) The source is first of all the leadership of the Communist Party and the superior socialist system. “Sweet” and “source” are the strong support of the PLA and the people of Hebei. We can see that the Central Government had high hopes on the admiration and compliance from the people to rebuild the country together. 



来新夏, 刘卫国, and 姚军, eds. “天津历史与文化.“ 天津人民出版社, 2008.

张学俭. “水到天津之后——引滦入津工程效益记实.” 中国水利, 1984, 32-35. Accessed December 13, 2017.

“引滦入津:改变一座特大型城市命运的水利工程.” 新华社, November 24, 2008. Accessed December 13, 2017.

万 里. “用 引滦入津精神抓重点建设.” 人民日报, May 13, 1983, 5. Accessed December 13, 2017.

1 Comment on “[13] Luanhe River Diversion Project(1982-1983) | Influences on Society

  1. Tianjin is a good example of showing the significance of the role of water in city development. The post has shown that the diversion project has enhanced different aspects, including social, industrial and environmental benefits. This has given me an urban vision of the Eco-City. It will be very fascinating to know more about how the water system could be expanded in the city to create sustainable cityscape and how it is integrated with the living environment. With pollution problem as the main struggle for the city to deal with, I believe it will require integration of new technologies and innovations in changing people’s living habits in order for the vision of an Eco-City to be achieved. Although the development into Eco-City is still in initial stages, I think that it will also serve as a great starting point for Chinese cities to rethink about the role of water and planning in the urban context.

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