China / Society

Shortage of water vexes Zhengzhou

By Hou Liqiang in Beijing and Qi Xin in Zhengzhou (China Daily) Updated: 2014-01-27 08:05

Lower water levels in the Yellow River are being blamed for the recent water shortage that has affected many families in Zhengzhou, Henan province, as people are busy preparing for Lunar New Year.

The water supply company in Zhengzhou said it is doing what it can to get more water, although it cannot guarantee when the supply will return to normal.

Shortage of water vexes Zhengzhou

The company said it will deploy trucks to deliver water to areas that are seriously affected, set up water supply stations using fire hydrants, and place water tanks in the community.

Residents began complaining to the company on Thursday that the water supply was irregular. By Sunday, the situation had not improved.

Shi Yufan, who lives on the fifth floor of a seven-floor building in Zhengzhou, was washing clothes when the water was cut off.

"As Spring Festival approaches, I need to wash many clothes and clean up my house. So it is quite inconvenient when the water supply is cut off," Shi, 65, said.

"The water usually resumes at about 11 pm, but the flow is quite low. I have to use washbasins and buckets to collect water for daily use, " she said.

Shi sometimes also borrows water from her neighbor, and sometimes she eats out instead of cooking at home because of the lack of water.

She said she is confident that with countermeasures taken by the government, the water shortages will not mess up the Spring Festival.

Local media reports said that about a third of the families in the city are affected by the water shortage. But He Chunbiao, a spokesman for the Zhengzhou water supply company, told China Daily that not many families have been affected.

"The water supply to some families who live on the fifth or sixth floors in six-floor buildings may be cut off during peak water usage, but the water supply to those high-rise buildings equipped with pressure boosters hasn't been affected," he said.

"Though not enough water is supplied in Zhengzhou, water isn't cut off in a large area of the city."

The company blamed the water shortage on the Yellow River. Zhengzhou, a city of more than 8.6 million people, gets 80 percent of its water from the river.

Spokesman He said the water shortage began in late November as the flow of the river's Huayuankou section dropped to 455 cubic meters per second from the usual 700. The situation got worse in early January as the water flow dropped further to 217 cubic meters per second.

As a result, the channel that sends water to the reservoir of the supply plants dried up, he said.

On Thursday, the water level of the reservoir in the plant was 90.51 meters, a historic low.

To keep the water in the reservoir at a high enough level to keep the pump working, the plant had to reduce pump pressure and slow down water delivery, which created a water shortage to some families, according to a post on the company's website.

The Baimiao water plant, a main water facility of the city, is now working to dredge the water-intake channel to supply the system.

Fortunately, Shiyuan plant, another main water plant in the city, can supply water at nearly normal levels with water from a nearby reservoir.

According to media reports, Kaifeng, another city in Henan province, was also affected by the decrease of the water flow of the river.

Song Xianfang, a researcher at the Institute of Geographic Sciences and Natural Resources Research, Chinese Academy of Science, said, "I didn't see any big weather change upstream, and it's not a time that much water is used for agriculture. The water should be enough for water plants, though the river is in a drought period."

As there are many water projects upstream in the Yellow River, the adjustment of water gates may have some effect, he said.

Contact the writers at and

Hot Topics