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Nine million Chinese face drinking-water shortage


04 Apr 2005 01:33:11 GMT
Source: Reuters
BEIJING, April 4 (Reuters) - Drought in China has left over nine million people facing drinking water shortages and could take a heavy toll on spring planting around the country, the China Daily reported on Monday.

Farmers planting rice in southern China and wheat in the north could expect little or no water to irrigate lands already dried out by the worst drought to strike some parts of the country in 50 years, the newspaper said.

"Vast stretches of cropland are desperately parched due to inadequate irrigation from dry rivers and reservoirs," it said.

"Worse still is the lack of drinking water in a number of coastal provinces with millions left without a regular supply."

Drought is common in China's arid north, but normally does not hit the south, where flooding following typhoons tearing in from the South China Sea is more common.

Hainan province, a popular tourist island and major rubber and sugar producer, was one of the worst affected regions, with more than half its tilled areas lacking irrigation and drinking water in short supply, it said.

Water levels at 11 reservoirs had fallen to the point water could not flow into surrounding farmland and nearly 1,000 smaller reservoirs providing drinking water to hundreds of thousands of people had dried up, it said.

"No rain-bringing typhoons have struck since last autumn," the China Daily said.