E. China city limits water supplies amid drought

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An island city in east China's Zhejiang Province started rationing water on Wednesday as a lingering drought continues to affect supplies of freshwater on the island.

Starting from Wednesday, residents of the city of Zhoushan will only be able to use running water for five hours per day, as 20 of the city's 29 reservoirs are unable to supply water due to low water levels, said Zhou Guoping, deputy director of the city's flood, drought and typhoon prevention office.

Water levels for the other nine reservoirs have also shrunk, Zhou said.

According to Zhou, the average rainfall from January to May in Zhoushan was just 150 mm, the lowest amount ever recorded in the city's history.

Many people have purchased water storage barrels in order to cope with the water shortage, according to a barrel vendor in the city's Putuo district.

On the island of Xiazhi, where Zhoushan is located, freshwater is supplied by desalinizing saltwater or by importing freshwater from inland regions.

The island has also lowered water pressure in order to save water.

"Even a shower has become a luxury," said Chen Qijun, a resident of the island.

Zhoushan hasn't been the only place to limit its supplies of water. In Xuyi County in Zhejiang's neighboring Jiangsu Province, running water has been cut off for five to six hours per day since late May.

Residents living in high-rise buildings in the county have had difficulty obtaining water, as lowered water pressure has prevented water from reaching the upper floors of the buildings. Temporary water supply stations have been set up to ensure that these residents still have access to water.

The drought has left more than three million people short of drinking water as of Sunday, said a statement from the Office of State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters (SFDH).

The affected provinces, which are mainly located in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, include Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei, and Hunan, according to the SFDH.

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