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Continuous Rain Eases Beijing's 7-year Drought
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Frequent rain since June has eased the drought that has troubled Beijing since 1999, but water authorities have warned against over-optimism.

Beijing residents would have noticed that city was getting more rain this year, but Liu Lizhi, spokesman for the Beijing Water Affairs Bureau, said on Thursday that it was still too early to say if this spelled the end of the drought.

According to Beijing Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, the city has been suffering the effects of a drought for seven consecutive years from 1999 to 2005, when annual rainfall was only 70 percent of the average of earlier records.

The drought was at its worst in 50 years in May, with only 17 millimeters of rainfall.

Total precipitation since June was 209 millimeters, 15 mm more than the same period last year, according to statistics from the bureau.

"But it is still below the yearly average of 233 mm," Liu said. "The drought has only been alleviated, not ended."

The accumulated precipitation since the beginning of the year was 285 mm, 15 mm less than the annual average.

Miyun Reservoir, the largest storage facility in northern China and the city's main water source, has collected 176.57 million cubic meters of water since the flood season began in June.

"We still have to wait until the season ends in August to see if the drought has really ended," Liu said.

(Xinhua News Agency July 28, 2006)

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