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Since the earlier study on South-to-North Water Transfers started in 1950s, the following general layout of South-to-North Water Transfers has been worked out : three water transfer projects, i.e. Western Route Project (WRP) and Middle Route Project (MRP) and Eastern Route Project (ERP) will divert water from upper, middle, and lower reaches of Changjiang River respectively, to meet the developing requirements of Northwest and North China.

The layout is suited to three topographic terraces of the continent of China. Situated in highest Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, WRP can control whole Northwest and North China, but only divert water for Northwest in upper and middle reaches of Huanghe River due to the limited water quantity in the upper reach of Chmgjiang River. Passing the west of the third terrace, MRP will divert water from middle reach of Changjiang River and its tributary, Hanjimg River, and the water can now by gravity to the most parts of Huang-Huai-Hai plain. Passing the east of the third terrace, ERP will pump water north due to its lower diversion location.