Hong Kong Offers to Cut Water Demand to Help Guangdong Drought

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Zhaoqing, Guangdong by preetamrai/FlckerHONG KONG, Nov. 12 – Hong Kong authorities have offered to cut down on the territory’s water supply from Guangdong Province to alleviate the worst drought in 60 years.

Water levels in Guangdong from August to September are only half of last year’s but the province has continued to supply 2 million cubic meters of water to Hong Kong and 230,000 cubic meters to Macau.

Hong Kong’s Water Supplies Department director Ma Lee Tak said in a news conference that he visited Guangdong reservoirs and the government was open to decreasing water supply coming from the mainland. Guangdong authorities say they appreciate the offer but that it was still unnecessary.

Drought in Guangdong Province is a regular occurrence with a huge one  happening every few years. This year’s drought is specially severe because it follows 14 percent less rainfall happening from January to October that has led to lower reservoir levels, poor crops and a shortage of drinking water.

The drought has affected more than 55,000 hectares of farmland in the province and eight cities including Meizhou, Shaoguan, Qingyuan, Shantou and Chaozhou reports China Daily.

Hong Kong has six months’ worth of water in its reservoirs for its 7 million residents or 477 million cubic meters. According to the government website, the territory’s water reservoir system has a maximum capacity of 586 million cubic meters.

Zhuhai city in Guangdong has already taken steps to manage water supply by instructing businesses and schools to decrease use by 20 percent or face fines. On the other hand, casino enclave Macau is taking another route by trying to encourage water conservation through cash rebates for residents and businesses under its Household Water Conservation Rebate Program.

Beijing has also artificially induced snowfall twice in the past week to help the south and northern regions’ water shortages.