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Water diversion planned to beat drought
By Zheng Caixiong (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-02 21:34

South China's Guangdong Province is planning to divert water from across southwestern China and other parts of southern China to help fight the severe drought and salt tide currently plaguing the Pearl River Delta.

Guangdong Vice-Governor Li Ronggen told a conference in Guangzhou that the province's water conservation departments are in talks with the Ministry of Water Resources and their counterparts in Southwest China's Guizhou Province and South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, whose northern part borders Guizhou.

Guangdong currently needs over 12 billion tons of fresh water before spring arrives to prevent its drought from worsening.

The water is also required to combat the worst salt tide in 20 years to hit major cities in the Pearl River Delta region bordering the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions.

Many large and medium-sized reservoirs in Guizhou and Guangxi have abundant water reserves.

Guizhou's Tianshengqiao Reservoir alone has up to 10.2 billion tons. And more than 5 billion tons of this can be used.

"Water supplies to more than 15 million people in the prosperous Pearl River Delta, Hong Kong and Macao will be affected in the coming year unless effective measures are taken quickly," Li said.

Meanwhile, the cities of Guangzhou, Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Zhongshan, Huizhou, Dongguan and Foshan are the hardest hit by the salt tide.

Many waterworks in the Pearl River Delta have suspended operations due to the adverse situation, and monitoring of local water quality has been expanded.

Li, who is also the head of Guangdong's anti-drought headquarters, urged departments in the province spare no effort in the battle to ensure drinking water supplies are maintained.

Drought has affected more than 2.5 million people and several million animals in Guangdong.

By the end of November, more than 930,000 hectares of farmland in Guangdong had been seriously affected by the drought, according to an official from the Guangdong Provincial Agriculture Bureau, who chose to remain anonymous.

And 320,000 hectares have totally dried up, the official told China Daily.

Affected by severe drought, Guangdong's agricultural yield will fall slightly this year, the official said.

Seriously drought-stricken cities include Jieyang, Yunfu, Zhaoqing, Meizhou, Shaoguan and Chaozhou in Guangdong's mountainous areas.

The provincial government has invested more than 140 million yuan (US$17 million) to help fight the drought.

Cloud seeding has taken part in the province 200 times this year, adding extra rainfall of 2 billion cubic metres.

South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Hainan Province have also been hit by severe droughts this year.

In Guangxi alone, more than 2.4 million people have been affected by the drought, with many of them having insufficient drinking water supplies.

And more than 700,000 hectares of agricultural land were affected by the drought.

Guangxi's grain output is expected to reach 14.76 million tons this year, a reduction of more than 100,000 tons from 2003.

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