Construction on a desalinator began in south China's city of Sansha on Saturday as part of a larger project that will also include a rainwater purification system.
The project, which will be capable of processing 1,000 cubic meters of seawater daily upon its completion, will supply water for residents of Yongxing Island, where the municipal government is seated, according to a spokesman from local economic planning body.
The desalinator, which will be completed by December 2013, will also supply clean water to nearby islets and reefs, as well as passing ships, according to him.
The desalinator will cost 70 million yuan (11.2 million U.S. dollars) to build, while the overall cost of the island's water project is estimated to reach 210 million yuan.
Sansha is China's youngest city, which was officially set up in July on Yongxing Island in the South China Sea to administer the Xisha, Zhongsha and Nansha islands and their surrounding waters.
Currently, residents of Yongxing Island rely heavily on water transported from south China's Hainan province.