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A boat lies grounded Monday on the low Jialing River, a branch of the Yangtze River which has dropped around 40 percent. The city of Chongqing is seen in the background.
updated 2/27/2007 9:08:14 AM ET 2007-02-27T14:08:14

Falling water levels in China's Yangtze River have left 1 million people short of drinking water, state media reported Monday. A severe drought has caused the water level in China's longest river to plunge over the last two weeks, severely cutting water-pumping capacity, Xinhua News Agency said.

Shapingba Waterworks, one of the largest suppliers of drinking water to the industrial southwestern city of Chongqing, said only one of 10 pipes used to pump water from the Yangtze was in operation, Xinhua reported.

"If the water levels in the Yangtze and its upper tributary Jialing River continue to decline, we'll face a real crisis," Xinhua quoted an unidentified Shapingba spokesman as saying.

The local water bureau said water levels in the Yangtze and Jialing rivers have declined sharply because of a lack of rainfall, which followed a severe drought last summer.

The problem is expected to continue until the rainy season begins in May, Xinhua said.

China suffers from a water shortage in the northern part of the country, but droughts have also hit other areas hard.

Last summer's drought in the southwest was the worst in 50 years, causing more than $1.1 billion in economic losses, according to state media. It affected parts of Chongqing and neighboring Sichuan province, leaving 18 million people without adequate drinking water, according to state media.

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