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SW China to Strengthen Water Conservancy
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Officials with southwest China's Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality made pledges at an ongoing conference about drought relief that they will strengthen the water conservancy construction "at all costs" to avoid the recurrence of the abject droughts torturing the two places this summer.


In the next few years, Chongqing will invest more money in the infrastructure construction of farmland water conservancy and complete the construction of a drought monitoring and forecast system, said Liao Daiyu, vice head of the city's flood control and drought relief office.


The official added that the office will also work on how to utilize the limited water resources in a more efficient way when the area is hit by a drought again.


The neighboring Sichuan Province also promised a large-scale water conservancy construction before the next summer. Besides, they will implement a project to collect rainwater for farm and drought relief use, said an official with the provincial water resource department.


Yet the official said the largest problem they are facing now is fund shortage.


Every year, the fund shortage in Sichuan's water conservancy construction is about 1.2 billion yuan (about US$150 million) on average, the official said.


This directly resulted in a great loss in this summer's severe drought in Sichuan.


More than 110 counties in the province were tortured by the three-month drought this summer. More than 10 million people suffered temporary drinking water shortage and over 266,000 hectares of farmland became fruitless. The direct economic loss of this drought in Sichuan was about nine billion yuan (about US$1.1 billion).


Though an abnormal climate was the main cause of the drought, losses could not have been that huge if there had been a more complete water conservancy network, experts said.


Chongqing also went through an eight billion yuan (about US$1 billion) loss in this summer's drought.


Zhu Xiansheng, director of the city's water resource bureau, said "the incomplete and old water conservancy system made a huge area of farmland dry up this summer and also caused drinking water shortage to both people and livestock, which all aggravated Chongqing's losses."


(Xinhua News Agency October 16, 2006)

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