In another sign of the gradual thaw in relations between China and Taiwan, the two countries announced on Monday that they had signed a agreement to pump water from Fujian in mainland China to Taiwan’s Kinmen County by 2017. The project will involve building an undersea pipeline to transport fresh water from Fujian to the more the more than 100,000 residents of Taiwan’s Kinmen archipelago.

Keep in mind that the Kinmen archipelago is only a mile and half from the Chinese mainland. Moreover, the now militarized and fortified islands and were shelled by Chinese artillery in the late 1950s, with 618 people being killed in a few year period.

The new China – Taiwan water purchase agreement calls for 15,000 tons of water per day to be sent to Kinmen to at first, gradually increasing to 34,000 tons daily by 2027.

According to media sources, the new water deal is valued at around NT$1.35 billion (US$43.27 million).

China, Taiwan Sign Deal To Build Undersea Water Pipeline

Statement from Taiwanese official

“The event is of historical significance when it comes to forging a path toward peaceful relations between the two sides,” Kinmen county magistrate Chen Fu-hai enthused at the signing ceremony on Monday. “Now Kinmen plays a pivotal role in promoting peace across the (Taiwan) Strait. The killing field has been transformed into a bridge of peace,” Chen noted.

More on the China – Taiwan water deal

Kinmen County only has one water company, and it operates a desalination facility, a few underground aquifers and a very small dam. The water utility can process up to 19,000 tons of water each day, but this amount remains some 15,000 tonnes short of current demand.

The Taiwan – China water project involves the construction of an underwater pipeline more than seven miles long that will be built to connect Kinmen and mainland Fujian. It will probably be close to two years before the pipeline is finished and will be able to deliver up to 34,000 tons of water on a daily basis within 12 years.

The Chinese authorities also highlighted that the water from Fujian’s Longhu Reservoir that is being shipped via the pipeline will be rigorously tested for safety and more tests will be performed in Kinmen to guarantee that the piped in water fully complies with Taiwan’s water quality standards before being relesed for use by businesses and residents.

The primary source for groundwater in Kinmen only provides 8,000 tons per day, and together with 17,000 tons supplied from reservoirs, this means water supplies for population of 130,000 are highly stressed during droughts and the dry season.

Moreover, a modeling of current population trends and economic growth projects a 20,000-tonne daily water shortfall by the end of this year if the two countries had not reached this landmark agreement.

China and Taiwan – More on the undersea water pipeline

The agreement calls for Taiwan to construct the pipeline from Kinmen to China, and then the Chinese government will construct the final section of the pipeline that leads to the Longhu Reservoir. Including the subsea section, the new water pipeline will be 27.67 kilometers long.

If everything goes as planned, the pipeline will be finished by the end of 2016 or early 2017.