Premier Li Keqiang has issued a State Council decree putting into effect a regulation governing water use in China’s south-to-north water diversion project.Management of the project should prioritize conservation, pollution control and environmental protection before water diversion, according to the regulation, which was publicized on Friday.Local governments will be responsible for ensuring water quality in their areas, while the central government will extend support. Water use among regions in the diversion project will be planned as a whole while the prices will be decided by State Council departments. The regulation also stipulates responsibilities for activities that harm water quality and the safety of facilities. The south-to-north water diversion project was conceived by former Chairman Mao Zedong in 1952. The State Council approved the ambitious project in December 2002 after debates that lasted nearly half a century.H The project is expected to divert 44.8 billion cubic meters of water annually from the Yangtze River and relieve water shortages in north China by 2050.