China has decided to press forward with a huge project to transport water over a great distance from the south of the country to the north. The plan, originally conceived by Mao Zedong, would probably require an engineering effort similar in magnitude to the one now underway for the country’s Three Gorges Dam, which is expected to cause massive ecological damage. The water transport scheme is being driven by a worsening water crisis in northern China. Authorities announced yesterday that the water table beneath Beijing had fallen by an average of 8.5 feet last year, and since the late 1960s it has sunk by 195 feet. Officials are considering three routes for the project of canals, pipelines, and human-made rivers; one of these routes might take water from the Mekong River, which could affect water supplies in several downstream nations, including Cambodia and Vietnam.