About 83,000 people in central China's Hunan Province are facing
drinking water shortages as drought has been plaguing the area for
As of Friday, 83,000 people in 31 counties in the province and
40,000 heads of livestock had been affected by water shortage,
according to the provincial flood control and drought relief
headquarters. The drought also affected 400,000 hectares of
cropland and dried up more than 1,500 reservoirs. The water level
of some stretches of the Xiangjiang River, the province's main
waterway, is at a historical low.
"This year, Hunan suffered drought both in summer and autumn,"
said Xiao Kuntao, an official with the headquarters. "The sustained
drought has caused all-time lows in the water level of the
Statistics with the provincial meteorological bureau showed the
province had 123 millimeters of rain from September to November,
down nearly 50 percent from normal years.
The headquarters said it had ordered reservoirs to ensure
adequate water supply for residents.
The Dongjiang Reservoir, the largest on the upper reaches of the
Xiangjiang, doubled its sluicing volume to 200 cubic meters per
second since November 10 to supplement water to the middle and
lower basins. The heavy rainfall brought by Typhoon Sepat in August
made the reservoir short of 1.1 billion cubic meters of water, Xiao
Other hydropower projects along the river were also asked not to
conserve water from the upper reaches.
Currently, the water level at the main Changsha section of
Xiangjiang River is only five centimeters higher than the lowest in
"If the water level drops by ten more centimeters, three of our
water plants will be unable to get water from the river and the
water supply to many residents will be cut off," said a worker with
Changsha Tap Water Company.
The low water levels have also worsened pollution in the
"We will strengthen the monitoring of water quality and shut
down some heavy polluting factories to ensure drinking water safety
for citizens," said Xiao.
Pan Zhixiang, deputy director of the Hunan meteorological
bureau, said the drought may last until next January as little
rainfall is forecast in the near future.
Drought is also afflicting neighboring Jiangxi Province. The
water level of the province's Poyang Lake, China's largest
freshwater lake, is nearing its lowest level in history due to
meagre rainfall in the past two months, local authorities said on
The lake's low water level has caused drinking water shortages
for residents near the lake and affected industrial production.
Local authorities are "taking all kinds of measures" to deal with
Jiangxi had seen the least rainfall from mid-September since
1960, local meteorological station said.
(Xinhua News Agency December 6, 2007)