the project has roots in an offhand comment by Mao Zedong who, on an inspection tour in the early 1950s, said: "The south has plenty of water, but the north is dry. If we could borrow some, that would be good." The project has three sections: a 1,150km eastern line, which runs from the lower Yangtze River to Tianjin; the middle line, from Danjiangkou to Beijing; and a western line, which could some day link the headwaters of the Yangtze and Yellow rivers across the high-altitude Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau. The eastern line began delivering water to coastal Shandong province last winter. The western line remains largely conceptual, so grand in scale that it may ultimately prove impossible to build.