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340,000 face drinking water shortage from drought
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Despite the disastrous flooding in Hunan, continued rainfall will actually bring relief to only some drought-stricken areas in the province, according to the Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters.

Currently, 340,000 people in the province face a drinking water shortage and the local authorities are putting their efforts towards drought relief.

The province’s total average rainfall up to July 8 was 711 mm, a 19 percent decrease from the same period last year, when it measured at 878 mm, according to the province’s Hydrographic Bureau. Provincial reservoirs currently store about 11.3 billion cubic meters of water. This is 1.8 billion cubic meters, or 13.7 percent, less than the same period in previous years.

Experts said it is rare in the history of Hunan for large-scale droughts to hit the northern part of the province in July.

“The lasting rainfall (will) bring relief to drought-stricken areas this week temporarily, but will not change the plight of water shortage,” experts added after studying area weather trends.

Eight cities are experiencing severe drought, according to the latest statistics from the Hunan Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters: Changsha, Xiangxi Autonomous Prefecture, Yueyang, Yiyang, Changde, Huaihua, Loudi and Shaoyang.

In addition, 48 counties and 780 towns are experiencing varying degrees of drought.

The statistics are alarming: the area of drought-affected crops amounts to some 217,000 hectares, 340,000 people and 120,000 livestock face a temporary drinking water shortage, 280 reservoirs and 140,000 ponds have gone dry while 520 rivers and streams are in danger of drying up.

Provincial government leaders are putting great efforts towards both flood control and drought relief to ensure agricultural production and to satisfy citizen water needs. The province temporarily employed 760,000 people to solve the water shortage problem which is affecting 158,000 people and 62,000 livestock overall.

Meteorological departments predict that Hunan’s total precipitation will remain low this month while temperatures will increase in late July, resulting in inadequate soil moisture. Because crop droughts have a tendency to spread, the departments are not optimistic about drought relief.

The Hunan Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters has asked staff and others to fully involve themselves in the fight against the severe drought. It encouraged employees to use scientifically-effective water resources and to ensure the resourceful use of water.

Ensuring that homes have enough drinking water and water for domestic tasks remains at the top of the agenda.

(China.org.cn by Ma Yujia, July 11, 2008)

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