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30,000 face having water supplies cut as drought persists

By Yang Jian (Shanghai Daily)

10:59, February 26, 2012

SOME 30,000 residents in Sichuan Province face having their water supplies cut next month unless a severe drought ends, officials warned yesterday.

Around 96,000 residents in Panzhihua City have experienced water shortages for more than nine months, as drought grips the area.

Already, 4,000 residents rely on water trucks sent by the city to bolster inadequate tap water supplies, Li Qunlin, a senior Party official the city, told China News Service.

"Water supplies may be cut to between 20,000 to 30,000 people if the drought continues next month," Li warned.

However, a let-up looks unlikely as no rainfall is forecast for the next three months, while temperatures will be rising, the National Metrological Center said yesterday.

Reservoirs and ponds are drying up, while crops are withering in Renhe District and Yanbian Town in the city, Li said.

Cattle have been let out to look for water, while in many areas the parched ground has cracked, said locals.

Some 800 hectares of crops have been affected in Yanbian, while more than 10,000 people face serious drinking water shortages, said the town's Party chief Liu Tianhua.

"The water I've stored can supply my family for five days at most," said 50-year-old farmer Chen Lunyue.

As she spoke, her husband and sons were out looking for water sources.

The town government has invested 20 million yuan (US$3.18 million) on new reservoirs and transporting water from other areas, Liu said.

The project will be able to supply water to more than 20,000 people, he said.

In Renhe the local government is building an 8-kilometer pipeline to transfer water from other areas to a local reservoir. It is due to be finished next week.

Liu said the Panzhihua government has allocated 70 million yuan to transfer water and dig wells.

Drought has affected southwest China for three years.

The Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters estimates that more than 3 million people face drinking water shortages.

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