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Worst Salt Tide Threatens Guangdong
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The current salt tide is severely threatening the fresh water supplies in south China's Guangdong Province, according to a local water resource official, who delivered the news on Wednesday.

Huang Qingliang, vice-director of the Guangdong Department of Water Resources, pointed out that the currently annual natural problem is the worst and he and his colleagues have been working hard to put it under control since autumn.

"The biggest saltwater tide this year has now reached the province and it will last for eight days until January 3 next year," said he.

According to the department, the content of chlorine hydronium, the main salt element, in the Dayongkou, a main water gate in the lower reach of Xijiang River, reached 7,500 milligrams per liter on December 15, a record high in recent years.

It exceeded 3,000 milligrams per liter yesterday, despite the government's prompt measures to control the seawater tide. The standard content in drinking water is only 250 milligrams per litre.

The salt tide occurs when seawater floods coastal areas because of serious drought.

The drought in the Pearl River Delta region has been worsening since September. As a result, seawater is flowing into the Pearl River and its tributaries in the coastal province, Huang said.

The Xijiang and Beijiang rivers, two major tributaries of the Pearl River, witnessed their lowest-ever water levels in mid-December.

Levels in the Xijiang River, which runs through the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and the southern Guangdong Province, reached a record low of less than 0.12 meters several days ago.

Official statistics show levels fell by 52.9 percent from last year because of drought and lack of rainfall.

Experts said that if the drought continues in the province, the serious salt tide is expected to last until February and March next year.

"Winter and spring are often seen as the low water seasons in the province, and it may encounter a lasting severe salt tide in early next year," Huang said.

From the end of 2004 until May this year, Guangdong also experienced a serious salt tide as a result of the severe drought in South China.

Due to the salt tide, the fresh water supply in Zhuhai, Zhongshan, two cities in the province often threatened by seawater tide, and Panyu District of Guangzhou, will be affected.

Zhuhai government has advised people in the city to drink bottled water instead of tap water, which mainly comes from Xijiang River.

It has also stopped water supplies to gardening in public areas and communities, car washing and sauna bath businesses for a week.

(China Daily December 29, 2005)

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