U.S. Water News Online
PARIS, France and BEIJING, China -- A drought across northern and northeastern China has created water shortages for 7 million people and 15 million head of livestock, according to a recent report in the Economic Daily. About 9.3 million acres of farmland have been affected, making planting impossible on more than 250,000 acres, the newspaper said.
And in France, both the northern farm belt and the eastern wine and food growing regions of Alsace and Lorraine are considering measures to limit drinking water due to a lack of significant rainfall since September. This spring alone, rainfall has been 80 percent below normal in many areas, said local officials.
"We are dealing with a drought comparable to that of 1976," said Noel Godard, a water management expert for the environment ministry. "In some areas we might be forced to (temporarily) suspend water services if water tables are too low," Godard said.
Depleted water tables are threatening crop yields in many areas of the country, mainly for grain. Wheat areas near the capital have had less than half an inch of rain since March instead of the four inches they normally receive. Crop analysts fear the lack of rain could hurt crop yields for winter and spring-sown grain crops. Prices are already at their highest for the past several years due to drought in the United States.
Analysts say there is still time for France to avert the dire problems experienced in the 1976 drought -- when a temporary tax was introduced to help farmers -- but some crop damage may be irreversible.
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