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Water Shortages Hit 700,000 People in Liaoning
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About 700,000 people and 207,000 head of livestock are suffering drinking water shortages in northeast China's Liaoning Province.

Sources with the flood prevention and drought relief headquarters said more than one million hectares of farmland in Liaoning have also been affected by drought over the past year.

The province has experienced its warmest winter in 56 years with the average temperature from December to February up 3.4 degrees Celsius from the average, according to Liaoning Provincial Meteorological Bureau.

Rainfall, however, was down at least 30 percent and ground water levels in the more arid western areas dropped by 12 to 35 centimeters from last year, according to the bureau.

Although a major snowstorm at the beginning of March has provided six billion cubic meters of water, the situation was only slightly improved.

Ten days after the storm, warm temperatures and spring winds have dried the moisture in the soil, sources with the relief headquarters said.

In counties like Chaoyang in northwestern Liaoning, many wells have dried up, forcing farmers have to deepen them or to carry water from nearby reservoirs.

Local drought relief authorities are building water pools to capture rainfall, and digging wells around reservoirs for local residents.

The provincial drought relief headquarters said plans to artificially generate more than three billion cubic meters of rain this year.

(Xinhua News Agency March 20, 2007)

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