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Sichuan Cities Warned of Water Shortages
Residents in 10 cities in Southwest China's Sichuan Province are expected to brace for water shortages as water resources per capita fall to less than 1,000 cubic meters annually, the latest official report said Sunday.

The figure was just under the 1,700 cubic meters set by global standards as a bottom line trigger to enforce water shortage warnings.

The report said the affected regions include Chengdu, the provincial capital. The hardest hits are Suining, Nanchong and Ziyang, where per capita water resources annually fell far below 600 cubic meters.

The report was jointly released by the Sichuan Water Resource Surveying Bureau and Sichuan Economic Information Center.

It served as a wake-up call to residents in Chengdu, a place referred to as the "land of abundance" by most Chinese people. The city got its name after the construction of the Dujiangyan Irrigation Project more than 2,200 years ago.

Following construction of the project in 256 BC, the Chengdu Plain, which suffered from incessant flooding in summer and drought in winter, has remained without drought and floods for more than 2,000 years.

"Chengdu people, who have taken pride in the project for more than 2 millenniums, never imagined that their city would one day face water shortages," said Zhu Juguang, a local environmentalist.

One major reason for the shortage is that water flowing in some of the major rivers in the province has been on the decline as less ice and snow has melted on the Minshan Mountain.

The rivers affected include the Minjiang, Tuojiang, Jialing and Fujiang. The Minjiang River alone has faced a 2.7 billion cubic meter reduction in water.

Sichuan will need a total of 46.8 billion cubic meters of water in 2005, but its water supply capacity will only be 38.7 billion cubic meters, the report said.

To cope with the grave situation, irrigation experts from the Sichuan Provincial Committee of China Democratic League suggest diverting water from western to eastern Sichuan.

(China Daily February 17, 2003)

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