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Drought Hits North China Province
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North China's Hebei Province has been experiencing a drought since last November as the average precipitation across the province is 60 percent less than that of normal years, local officials said on Friday.


The drought has affected 1.6 million hectares of farm land, said the officials from the provincial department of water resources.


Water stored in 18 major reservoirs decreased 53 million cubic meters, said the officials, who also predicted that during the spring water supply for the reservoirs would reduce by 283 million cubic meters to 642 cubic meters.


Cities in the province have to overuse underground water to cover the gap and meet the demand.


The province is urging farmers to adopt water-saving irrigation and build water cellars to collect rain water to survive the drought.


China is in the process of building a water-conserving society amid water shortages. Currently, about 400 out of 660 Chinese cities lack water and 136 have reported severe water shortages.


(Xinhua News Agency March 18, 2006)


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