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110 Chinese cities face serious water shortage: report.

BEIJING, March 22 Kyodo

Some 110 Chinese cities face a serious shortage of water, especially those in the drought-stricken north, and the scarcity will get worse as China's population increases to 1.6 billion people by 2030, state media reported Monday.

Marking U.N.-declared World Day for Water, the official Xinhua News Agency said 400 of China's more than 600 cities lack water and that 110 are in particularly short supply. The total shortage is 6 billion cubic meters, Xinhua said.

China's per capita possession of water resources stands at 2,200 cubic meters, or only a quarter of the world average, Xinhua said.

It said that when the current 1.29 billion population reaches 1.6 billion by 2030, that average will decline to 1,750 cubic meters per person.

Other Monday news reports encouraged people to conserve, adding that national irrigation authorities had decided not to rely on the Three Gorges Dam and South-North Water Diversion Project for relief.

Both projects could capture water from the rainy areas of south China for use in the north, where rain seldom falls between late October and early April.

One of China's biggest lakes, in Hebei Province near Beijing, has dried up. Farmers in north China complain of nothing but summer rain to sustain crops.

Many Chinese urbanites know nothing about conserving water, not hesitating to take hourlong showers, said Ma Jun, Beijing author and consultant with the environmental planning firm Sinosphere. He said the kind of statistics published in the papers Monday should help raise awareness.

''These five years are not a drought just for Beijing. North China is in bad shape,'' Ma said. ''The government and citizens should both do something. The government can disclose more facts and data.''

Today, college students and some government work unit residents pay extra if they exceed maximum shower times, but these restrictions do not apply to common apartments, Ma said. He encouraged the government to rely more on conservation and less on water engineering projects.
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Publication:Asian Economic News
Date:Mar 29, 2004
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