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Lintao’s water crisis is warning for other Chinese cities


When Lintao’s taps ran dry in February, it was a wake-up call for other Chinese cities. Throughout China, 400 cities face a water crisis, and the situation is “severe” in more than 100 of those, Rob Schmitz reports for American Public Media’s Marketplace.  

The combination of drought conditions and rampant urban development has drained Lintao’s underground water reserves. Now, tens of thousands of residents in this city of 200,000 in China’s northwest queue each morning with buckets and other containers. Water is delivered from elsewhere for distribution.

“China is home to more than 20 percent of the world’s population, but it contains only 7 percent of the world’s fresh water,” Schmitz notes. Liu Changming, a retired hydrologist for the Chinese Academy of Sciences, tells Marketplace that all of the nation’s “water-scarce” cities, including that capital Beijing, are in the north. An estimated 500 million citizens are at risk of Lintao-style shortages. 


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