The water authority in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, is urging residents to save water as the special economic zone experiences its worst drought since 1963.
The city's office in charge of promoting the saving of water has offered many tips to residents, including reducing bathing time by one minute every day.
Locals are advised to turn off shower heads while they are applying shower gel or soap, and to close taps while brushing teeth to save water.
According to the water authority, more than six liters of water are saved when a tap is turned off for a minute.
Zhang Jian'an, director of its water resources management division, said Shenzhen is facing its worst drought since the establishment of the city.
"The daily average urban water consumption gap has now reached more than one million cubic meters, and affected by La Nina, the drought that began hitting the city in late autumn will probably continue through the whole winter and the coming spring and summer," Zhang said at a media briefing on Wednesday.
Shenzhen launched a level four emergency response for drought late last month, he said.
To overcome the water shortage, the city government has urged residents to save and recycle water, including by watering flowers with water used to wash rice, and by cleaning and flushing toilets with water previously used to launder clothes, it said.
Zhang said departments in the city are now introducing measures including reduced water consumption and increased use of recycled water in construction, environmental sanitation and urban greening industries.
In addition to less rainfall this year, Zhang attributed the water shortage to the city's rapidly growing population, which has caused water consumption to rise in recent years.
There are no large rivers flowing through Shenzhen and the city has no large lakes or reservoirs to help store water, resulting in a great shortage of fresh water resources for its 17.5 million residents.
More than 90 percent of Shenzhen's water supply depends on water from the Dongjiang River, which is dozens of kilometers north of the city and is also experiencing the worst drought in decades.
Xu Weiqiang, a resident of Shenzhen's Futian district, said he now receives text messages every day telling him about the city's severe drought and the proposals to save water.
"Water supply for residential use in the urban areas has not yet been affected," Xu said.
But some factories, companies and large water users are said to have been required to reduce water consumption, he said.
Xu said he would take measures to save water during the severe drought.
In Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, water intake at two waterworks has fallen sharply because less water is flowing through the upper reaches of the Dongjiang River and the continuous impact of salt tides, affecting the normal water supply in parts of the city's Huangpu and Tianhe districts, the city's water supply authority said on Wednesday.
It said water supply might be suspended in parts of the affected areas if the situation continues to worsen.
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