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Persistent drought drains lakes in Yunnan

(Xinhua)

08:26, March 02, 2012

KUNMING, March 1 (Xinhua) -- Nine lakes on southwest China's Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau have seen water levels drop with the loss of 292 million cubic meters from the same time last year, local authorities said Thursday.

The water level of the nine lakes is 0.7 meters lower on average than the same period last year due to persistent drought, said officials with the provincial Environmental Protection Department.

Water marks left by previous water levels can be clearly seen on the bank of Dianchi Lake, the largest freshwater lake in Yunnan province. The current water level is 33 cm lower than its normal level, officials said.

"If there is no obvious rainfall before the rainy season in June, Dianchi's water level will fall further," they said.

With dwindling water, the lake's ability to cleanse itself drops, as does its ability to dissolve pollutants, officials said.

Drought and low rainfall in the past three consecutive years have dried up 273 rivers and 413 small reservoirs in Yunnan.

The ongoing drought has affected people in 15 prefectures and municipalities, leaving 3.19 million people and 1.58 million heads of livestock short of drinking water in the province.

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