One month ago, Kunming suffered through its coldest day in three decades. The temperature dipped to eight degrees centigrade below zero in some parts of the city. While such temperatures were extremely inconvenient for people going about their daily lives, the cold was downright deadly for uncounted numbers of trees and water meters across the Spring City.
Hope for Kunming's trees?
For the past month, tree trimmers have moved methodically through town, hacking dead limbs off of heartier species and uprooting or cutting down tropical perennials that did not survive the January cold snap. Many of the city's trees suffered from the plant equivalent of "frostbite", and the current chill may affect them further, says Professor of Ecology Li Yuanbiao (李元表) of Yunnan Agricultural University.
Most Spring City trees should rebound if not hurt by further subzero weather or over-eager pruning. As long as root systems and trunks remain in good shape, trees should bloom normally when warmer weather returns, according to Li.
However, he cautioned that assessing the health of thousands of trees was nearly impossible, and that the city should not rush to replace or cut down seemingly damaged specimens until they have had a chance to recover. Nevertheless, city workers and tree trimming companies have taken a seemingly drastic approach along roads and inside neighborhoods throughout Kunming. We will have to wait until spring temperatures rise before seeing the full extent of the damage.
Water meter fix almost finished
Sub-freezing temperatures just before Spring Festival also wreaked havoc on more than 60,000 residential water meters. Some froze and quit working, while others ruptured and sprung leaks. Statistics released by the Kunming Water Company (KWC) show outages and damaged meters affected five percent of the company's 1.1 million customers.
Repair crews have worked furiously throughout February, but reports of broken pipes and gauges are still coming in, especially from people returning late from the New Year holiday. A company spokesman said KWC will respond to the forty or so service calls it is currently receiving on a daily basis "in the order they are received", until the problem is fixed.
Households with water problems can call phone a 24-hour hotline at 6511222 to report issues. Replacement services for broken meters are free, but those who contract an independent company for speedier labor will not be reimbursed for their trouble, according to a KWC statement.
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