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Facing drought, China taps rivers for Olympics

China has begun storing water to guarantee supplies in the northern port during next year's Olympic Games.
China Asia Climate Change
Much of China is seeing severe drought, including this area in Fujian province where a couple carry water through their dry rice field on July 30.Xinhua via AP
/ Source: Reuters

China has begun storing water pumped from the Yellow River in Olympic co-host city Qingdao to guarantee supplies in the parched northern port during next year's Games, local media reported.

Qingdao, which will host Olympic sailing events, by the end of November will pump water from the Yellow River equal to almost a year's annual consumption in the city of 7.7 million residents, Xinhua news agency said, citing a senior water engineer.

"The water will be saved for domestic and industrial use and will alleviate water supply pressures on Qingdao during the 2008 Olympics," the agency quoted Liu Jing, a senior engineer with the Yellow River Engineering Bureau, as saying.

Like much of northern China, Qingdao, which lies more than 186 miles from the Yellow River, faces water shortages which have become more acute due to economic and population growth, the agency said.

Annual water consumption had nearly doubled since the early 1990s in Qingdao, which enjoys only one-seventh of the country's average water resources, it added.

Ensuring adequate drinking water during the Olympics has also proved a headache for Beijing, where a prolonged drought and the prospect of 2.5 million Games-related visitors have seen officials scrambling to divert water from reservoirs in neighboring Hebei province.

Beijing authorities spent $58 million diverting water from a local river to replenish water at its Olympic rowing and canoeing venue after it dried up, state media reported last month, and have installed thousands of "electronic eyes" to guard against leakage and waste in local water pipes.