Heatwaves, drought affect Chongqing's drinking water

Chen Xiaoli
More than 350,000 people's drinking water has been affected by the drought in Chongqing as the city has been hit by back-to-back heatwaves, according to China Central Television.
Chen Xiaoli
Heatwaves, drought affect Chongqing's drinking water

Piers near a dried riverbed exposed after the Yangtze River water level dropped in Yunyang County in southwest China's Chongqing on Tuesday.

More than 350,000 people's drinking water has been affected by the drought in Chongqing as the city has been hit by back-to-back heatwaves, according to China Central Television.

Affected by the hot weather, the average precipitation since July in Chongqing is about half of that for the same period of previous years. Some small and medium-sized rivers are so dry they have stopped flowing.

Chengkou, one of the most remote counties in Chongqing, has experienced nine high-temperature days – defined as days when the temperature exceeds 35 degrees – since July, eight days more than the same period in normal years, the most high-temperature days since 1958, The Paper reported on Tuesday.

Since the beginning of this year, total rainfall in Chengkou is 415.8 millimeters, 58 percent of the average rainfall in the same period.

Due to high temperatures and drought, Chengkou's water storage capacity has dropped sharply. Sanhe Reservoir, which supplies water for central areas of the county, has a water storage capacity of 473,900 cubic meters, which only meets the water demand of the region's population for about 10 days.

Feng Yue, director of the local water resources bureau, told The Paper the county will begin to use its backup water source, Yang'erba Reservoir, on August 20. The reservoir has a reserve of 2 million cubic meters of water, ensuring people's water demand for a long period of time.

In rural areas, especially mountainous areas across Chongqing that have difficulty accessing drinking water, local governments have taken a series of measures to tackle the problem, such as looking for new, alternative water sources and using fire trucks, pickup trucks and motorcycles to deliver water to villagers.

In addition to drinking water, the drought's impact extends to agricultural production. For example, the rice harvest in Yongchuan and Liangping began about a week earlier than usual. Agriculture departments across Chongqing are making every effort to organize and coordinate agriculture machinery and operators to quickly harvest the mature rice and avoid unnecessary losses.

Heatwaves, drought affect Chongqing's drinking water

A villager gets water at a water distribution point in Wushan County's Luoping Village in southwestern China's Chongqing on August 13.

In Chongqing's neighboring Hubei Province, severe drought since June has affected 4.2 million people, Xinhua news agency reported.

As of Tuesday, drought conditions triggered by sustained hot weather and low precipitation had impacted 78 counties in the province.

In addition, more than 150,000 people had difficulty accessing drinking water, while almost 400,000 hectares of crops had been damaged due to water shortages.

Lu Juan, an official from the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, said this year's severe drought has had a long-lasting, large-scale and wide-ranging impact. The drought in the Yangtze River Basin will probably continue and intensify, but the risks are generally controllable thanks to the water conservancy projects to alleviate drought conditions and ensure the safety of water for production and living.

According to CCTV, Three Gorges Reservoir has increased its water release since Tuesday, dispatching water to the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River.

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