At least 500,000 people in north China's Hebei Province are suffering from a shortage of drinking water caused by a drought which began in the winter, local water conservation authorities said.
The provincial meteorological department said the rainfall was rare and temperature kept high in the province during the period from November last year to February this year. More than 200 small reservoirs became dry.
The drought had resulted in a shortage of water for spring agricultural production, affecting 36 million mu (2.4 million ha) of farmland, including 7.8 million mu (520,000 ha) cropland, said sources from the provincial bureau of agriculture.
Now, the 18 major reservoirs in Hebei have a total water storage of 2.14 billion cubic meters, with 1.7 billion available for this spring, 500 million less than the same period last year.
The meteorological department forecast that the lack of rainfall and high temperature would continue in the next month and a severe drought may occur in most regions across the province.
The water shortage has also affected power generation at local hydropower stations.
Hebei is one of the major agricultural production bases in China.
(Xinhua News Agency April 21, 2007)