Salty tide hits Shanghai as drought lingers

08:25, May 26, 2011      

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Shanghai residents have found the tap water in their homes turning salty that are believed to be caused by an ongoing salt tide, officials said.

The month-long serious drought that has plagued central China triggered the salt tides in Shanghai on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, China's longest water system, the Shanghai Water Authority said yesterday.

A salt tide is a phenomenon in which the lower course of a river, with its low altitude with respect to sea level, becomes salty when the discharge of the river is low during dry season.
The city will send fresh water to communities where tap water is determined to be undrinkable, the authority said.

As most of the city's reservoirs have been affected by the salt tide, emergency plans and solutions are being prepared to counter the water pollution and likely shortage.

The latest slat tide has lasted for seven consecutive days and is likely to continue, said Meng Minggun, director of the water supply department of Shanghai Water Authority.

Though a salt tide is not strange to Shanghai, especially in winter and spring when the water level on the Yangtze River is relatively low, it is rare that the phenomenon persists into the summer season, said Meng.
At the survey point of the Chenxing reservoir, salt concentrations have reached 676 milligrams per liter by Wednesday, according to the Shanghai Water Authority.

The lingering drought in the areas of the Yangtze River's middle and lower reaches is one of the major reasons behind the salt tide, said Zhao Pingwei, deputy director of the Shanghai Water Supply Monitoring Center.

Meng said if residents found their tap water too salty or faced a shortage, they could dial a hotline, 962740, for help. The water company will then send sprinklers and fire engines to deliver drinking water.

"Although an extreme situation is very unlikely, we have urged reservoirs and tap companies to be alert," Meng said.

Experts, however, pointed out that the slightly salty water poses no harm to human health.

The city's tap water system is able to provide 10.48 million cubic meters of water a day, and the daily maximum water usage in 2010 was 9.88 million cubic meters.

By Peoples Daily Online
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