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Water rationing underway in Kunming

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It's official. Water rationing has begun in Kunming.

Beginning on February 22, water has been available as usual during the high-usage hours between 4pm and 8pm, but water pressure will be "gradually reduced" during the remaining 20 hours of the day, the city's water supplier told Shenghuo Xinbao.

After three continuous years of drought, the city's water supplies are running extremely low many weeks before the expected beginning of the rainy season, which usually arrives in May or June.

There are currently 123 million cubic meters of water available for use by Kunming's four main urban districts – a 59 percent decline from the 300 million cubic meters available at the same time last year, according to the municipal department responsible for dealing with floods and droughts.

An employee of Kunming CGE Water Supply Co Ltd (昆明通用水务自来水有限公司) reportedly told Shenghuo Xinbao that the entire municipal water network was suffering from low pressure. The company is responsible for producing and distributing water for most of the city.

Established in 2006, Kunming CGE is a 30-year joint venture between the Kunming municipal government and a consortium consisting of Veolia Water, CITIC Pacific and Ping An Insurance. The city owns 51 percent of the company, the remaining 49 percent is owned by the consortium.

The municipal water supply department has reportedly adopted a strategy of reducing the amount of water available to the biggest users in order to ensure that Kunming citizens have enough water to make it to the rainy season. Who the biggest users are has not been elucidated.

Some parts of the city, especially homes on higher terrain or toward the top of tall buildings, are already experiencing extremely low water pressure and/or periods of no running water at all.

Kunming's water department is encouraging residents in high parts of the city or near the tops of buildings to fill buckets or other large vessels with water between 4pm and 8pm.

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OK people, let's keep the hanky-panky out of the shower for the next couple month!

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