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Tap Water Set to Flow Again

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"We have to rely solely on bottled water to perform disinfection," Wang Li, a nurse at Tonghua People's Hospital, said as she poured water onto a doctor's hands before surgery.

After being left without tap water for more than 72 hours, Tonghua residents calmed down on Tuesday and became less worried about the water shortage.

"Everyone rushed to supermarkets to buy bottled water when the water was first cut off, worrying that it might be sold out and the price would go up," said 45-year-old Liu Shujuan, who was filling up her red plastic bucket with water from a fire truck clearly marked "undrinkable water".

About 25 fire engines were dispatched to 22 communities to provide underground water to Tonghua residents from 5 am to 9 pm.

The water is only used to flush the toilets or wash clothes after local authorities warned it was unsafe to drink.

"The price of bottled water remains the same and we have continuous access to water for domestic use," said Liu, who complained about being unable to shower for three days.

City authorities have pledged to ensure adequate supplies of bottled water and have vowed to crack down on price gouging.

However, prices have risen for large plastic buckets to carry and store water.

"In some stores, the price of a bucket, which could hold about 10 liters of water, almost doubled," Liu said.

Residents of Tonghua are not alone in their suffering. In Longjing city of Yanbian in southeastern Jilin, about 260,000 people have also been left without water for more than six days and the city's government has ordered fire trucks to dispatch water to local residents, China News Service reported.

In Dandong city in Northeast China's Liaoning province, the rain has also disrupted water supplies to more than 12,000 households.

The torrential rain has made the Yalu River, the Dandong's main source, too muddy for the water plant to be able to purify it, Xinhua News Agency reported.

In Antu county, Jilin, some villages have suffered from blackouts after telecommunications, transportation and power supplies were cut off.

(China Daily August 4, 2010)

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