Water Shortage Threatens China's Capital

February 13, 2000

Rampant
pollution, soaring demand and a lack of rainfall has brought China's capital to
the brink of a severe water shortage.



"Beijing's
low supply of water may turn into a big problem for the city,'' Xinhua news
agency quoted an unnamed water resources official as saying. "If the dry
weather continues this year, we'll soon see a water shortage.''



China's
growing population coupled with industrial demands and pollution have
exacerbated drought in Northern China. Precipitation was just 349 mm (13.7
inches) over the capital last year (60 percent of the normal amount) and too
little to replenish the city's 16 main reservoirs adequately, Xinhua said.



Beijing
has periodically succumbed to water shortages, suffering three emergencies since
the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949. The last emergency was in
the early 1980s.



Beijing
authorities have employed extraordinary tactics to coax water from the skies,
including "seeding'' clouds with chemicals and explosives.

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