Six Million Chinese Face Water Shortages

February 28, 2007 12:00 am Last Updated: February 28, 2007 12:00 am

BEIJING—A severe drought in southwestern China is threatening the water supplies of six million people in the crowded metropolis of Chongqing, a state-run news agency said on Wednesday.

The city faces an acute water shortage in early March due to a continuing drought along the Yangtze River, the agency said citing a local meteorological expert.

“The city will be lacking at least 500 million cubic metres of drinking and irrigation water and about six million people will be thirsty,” Xinhua quoted the local meteorologist as saying.

Official figures show that the amount of water stored in Chongqing's reservoirs is around 1.17 billion cubic meters, less than half the normal storage, it said.

The southern province of Guangdong said it was considering rationing water to industry, farms and residents to ease a drought there.

Last summer's drought was the worst to hit southwest China in more than a century, when temperatures topped 40 degrees Celsius (104F) and about 18 million people faced water shortages.

Some parts of Chongqing—home to some 30 million people—had started limiting water supplies to residents and were drilling new wells to find underground sources, state-run media reported earlier.