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Warning of Tap Water Crisis in Macao
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The tap water situation worsened in Macao on Monday, as the salinity level remained the hiking surge.

The salinity level reached 620 mg/l on Monday, according to Macao Water, the monopoly water supplier in the region, and the World Health Organization defines the standard level for drinking water at 250 mg/l.

The Health Bureau has issued a statement, urging residents to mix tap water with distilled water at the rate of 1:1 to desalinate the content.

The price of bottled water has thus rocketed three times over the past few weeks and local distilled water companies are working over time to handle retail shops' orders.

Meanwhile, in the neighboring mainland city of Zhuhai on which Macao counts its raw water reserve, reservoirs are reportedly drying up.

Zhuhai's Water Affairs Department Friday revealed that its reservoirs contained less than eight million cubic meters of raw water while the city and Macao together consume an average of 0.6 million cubic meters everyday.

Zhuhai's municipal government Thursday started rationing water supply to many high-rise residential buildings, according to the mainland city's media.

The Macao authorities are also making efforts to tackle the tapwater problem.

The Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (CMAB) has announced a string of water-saving measures, including reduced irrigation of green spaces and closure of five public fountains.

The CMAB re-opened seven public wells free of charge for residents to obtain water "for non-drinking purposes."

Ao Man Long, Secretary for Transport and Public Works, is to visit the mainland provinces of Guangdong, Guizhou and Guangxi early in March to hold discussions with the concerned authorities on the joint-handed efforts to solve the water supply issue in Macao.

An official statement issued by Ao's office Monday said Ao will be accompanied by representatives of the Macao Water on his mainland tour.

Meanwhile, Macao's 12 members of the National People's Congress (NPC) are planning to submit a proposal to the central government on the current "salty tap water" crisis, local media reported.

The details of the proposal, however, have not been disclosed so far.

Macao, relying the water supply on Xijiang River which is originated in Guangdong Province, has long been enduring the salinity crisis caused by the intake of the sea water during the winter season.

The salinity crisis this year is believed to be the worst in the city's history.

(Xinhua News Agency February 28, 2006)

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