Lingering drought may cut water supply in east China province

08:46, January 28, 2011      

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Water supplies to nearly one million people will cease if a drought in east China's Shandong Province lasts until the end of March, disaster prevention officials warned Thursday, as much of China's northern region continued to experience less than average rainfall, which started months ago.

The drought is the worst in six decades, said Yang Zhendong, director of the provincial flood and drought control office.

Little rain has fallen in the province since September, with only 12 millimeters since September 23, about 15 percent of the normal level, he said.

Officials said some 3.2 million people across the province have been affected by the shortage.

Further, provincial authorities Thursday raised the drought disaster level to the highest possible level.

Yang said the drought mostly affected rural residents in mountainous areas. People have to travel longer distances to obtain water. Also, the government has organized work crews to drill wells and send fire engines to deliver water to the affected residents.

Shandong is a key wheat growing province. About 2 million hectares of land used for growing wheat, or 56 percent of the wheat-planting areas in the province, have been hit by drought.

Scarce rainfall has gripped nine provinces since October last year, including the six major wheat producing provinces -- Shanxi, Shandong, Hebei, Henan, Anhui and Jiangsu -- which contribute more than 80 percent of the country's total wheat output.

As of Monday, 60.39 million mu (4.02 million hectares) of crops throughout the nation were plagued by drought, according to the latest statistics from the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

Beijing has recorded 90 days with no effective precipitation, the longest such period in 30 years. Weather forecasters say Beijing residents are not likely to see snow, a merry sign, during the lunar Chinese New Year holiday which starts on Feb. 2.

That is in sharp contrast to the heavy snow and icy rain pounding much of central and southern China this month, adding extra pressure to already strained roads and railways during the holiday travel season. Scientists say the abnormal weather is possibly a result of the La Nina effect.

Source: Xinhua
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