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Guangdong experiences worst drought in 50 years
By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-11 06:10

GUANGZHOU: More than 400,000 local soldiers, officials and residents are now working to help fight the worst drought that has affected the Leizhou Peninsula, in Guangdong Province, in 50 years.

More than 500,000 mu (33,333 hectares) of farmland in Zhanjiang and Maoming, two coastal cities in the western part of the province, have been struck by severe drought.

Drought has also threatened another 2.5 million mu (166,666 hectares) of cropland in the two cities, threatening local spring ploughing and even the autumn harvest.

Local governments are doing what they can to seek water resources for the spring ploughing season, which usually ends in May.

The severe drought has also affected as many as one million people and a large number of local domestic animals.

In some rural areas in the province, residents have insufficient drinking water supplies, according to an official at Guangdong Provincial Anti-Drought Headquarters yesterday.

The Hedi Reservoir, that has a capacity of 1.14 billion cubic metres of water, has almost dried up. It is one of the most famous reservoirs in the prosperous southern Chinese province.

By the end of last month, the amount of water reserves in Zhanjiang amounted to only 800 million cubic metres, a reduction of more than 38 per cent compared to previous years.

Zhanjiang municipal government has spent more than 49 million yuan (US$6 million) in fighting drought since the end of last year, the official said.

And more than 10,000 water pumps are currently working day and night to fight drought in Zhanjiang, one of Guangdong's agricultural and forest production bases, said the official.

The city also launched more than 100 rockets to try to induce artificial rainfall between November 6 and February 21.

Deng Weilong, Party secretary of Zhanjiang, has led a special task force that was established earlier this year to focus on fighting the drought.

Deng has urged relevant de-partments in his city to do whatever they could to fight the disaster, ensure agricultural irrigation and save water.

Rainfall in Zhanjiang reached only 562 millimetres in the first three months this year, down about 40 per cent from the same period last year.

Meanwhile, another drought in the Pearl River Delta region of Guangdong Province has been eased thanks to continuous rainfall in March.

The water levels in the Xijiang, Beijiang and Dongjiang rivers, the three major tributaries of the Pearl River, have all risen as they enter their flood season.

The severe salt tides that have struck major cities in the delta, that borders the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, in previous months have also ebbed.

As a province with the country's longest coast line, this spring Guangdong was hit by the worst salt tides in two decades.

These occur when salt water washes up rivers because of low water levels in the rivers caused by drought. The salt tides once threatened drinking water supplies for more than 15 million people in the delta, Hong Kong and Macao.

Guangdong provincial govern-ment is now urging its western cities and counties to take effective and concrete measures to fight drought.

It is also requiring the Pearl River Delta region and the cities along major rivers to prepare for possible flooding in the months ahead.

Located in the subtropical zone in China's southern coastal areas, Guangdong is frequently hit by typhoons and storms in summer.

(China Daily 04/11/2005 page3)

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