The amount of water held in reservoirs and storage in Hebei, the neighboring province and major water supplier of Beijing, is 22.5 billion cubic meters lower than it was five decades ago, said Wei Zhimin, a senior expert of the provincial water resources bureau on Wednesday.
Coming just before Thursday's international water day, his comments serve to highlight the perilously dry conditions in the area.
As a province continuously suffering from rainfall shortage, Hebei has 307 cubic meters of water for every member of its population, one seventh of the national average, noted Wei, adding that water shortages have already fettered local economic and social development.
Uneven distribution of rainfall, global warming and increasing water consumption are the three major reasons for the shortages, according to Wei.
As a result, the average temperature of Hebei has increased 1.4 degrees celsius in the past 50 years.
While meeting its own needs, the province supplies water to neighboring Beijing and Tianjin, where three big reservoirs are backed by water from Hebei, largely aggravating the current burden.
Statistics show that water resources in Hebei have dwindled by nearly 50 percent in recent years compared with the 1950s. The province consumes 20.5 billion to 21.5 billion cubic meters water annually but it has only 17 billion cubic meters of surface water, leaving groundwater to meet the shortfall.