Water Shortage Threatens China's Capital

Feb. 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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