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Guangdong Dries Up

Drought in the Pearl River Delta has spread from rural areas into the cities and forced millions to deal with shortages or an outright lack of water.

The province's capital, Guangzhou, as well as the cities of Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Huizhou, Dongguan and Zhongshan have all been affected, said an official from the Guangdong Provincial Bureau of Water Conservation.

Reserves at major reservoirs are going down by 320 million cubic meters a day, worsening the effects of the drought, and many waterworks have been forced to stop production altogether.

The province is hoping to counteract the drought's impact through more investment and by sending three teams of water conservation experts to stricken areas. There are also plans to create more artificial rain later this year.

By Sunday, more than 2 million residents in 83 cities and counties in the province had been affected. Of those, 32 cities and counties were experiencing serious drought with a total of around 1.2 million people without enough water.

Domestic animals were reported to have died and more than 651,790 hectares of farmland seriously affected. 160,000 hectares have lost their crops completely.

He Jiangxia, an expert from the Guangdong Provincial Observatory, said the drought is expected to continue until the spring, with little rainfall in the next three to four months.

In Guangzhou 53,333 hectares of rice fields have had insufficient water, of which 12,667 hectares are expected to face complete crop failure.

In Meizhou, in the east of the province, more than 50,000 people do not have enough drinking water and over 20,000 hectares of crops have suffered.

The western county of Suixi has lost more than 200 million yuan (US$24 million) after 30,667 hectares of rice, sugar cane and other crops were afflicted.

Other cities that have been hardest hit by the drought include Shaoguan, Jieyang, Yunfu, Zhaoqing, Shantou and Chaozhou in Guangdong's mountainous areas. South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Hainan Province are also being affected.

Located in a subtropical zone, the coastal Guangdong Province used to be hit by floods in summer.

(China Daily October 26, 2004)

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