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Thursday, Sep. 13, 2012
Kanto issues first water restrictions in more than 10 years
By JUN HONGO
While the Kanto region's first water restriction in more than a decade won't immediately affect households, government officials urged the public Wednesday to use as little as possible to avoid worsening the situation.
"At this point, there is no impact on the water supply for households," an official in the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Bureau of Waterworks told The Japan Times.
"But we are requesting that the public make further efforts to cut their water use," he added, considering it is still unclear whether the region will see a sufficient amount of rainfall in the next weeks to lift the use restriction.
The land ministry and six prefectural governments, including Tokyo, on Tuesday began cutting by 10 percent the amount of water taken from the Tone River.
According to the land ministry, water levels in the area's reservoirs were at 38 percent as of noon Wednesday, about half of the average for this time of the year. The level behind Yagisawa Dam, one of the biggest reservoirs, was at 5 percent.
The last time the water intake was restricted was in August 2001, when the Kanto region's supply fell drastically due to limited rain. That caused public parks to cut their usage, including turning off fountains.
According to the metropolitan government, the capital relies on the Tone River and its tributaries for more than 70 percent of its water.
While the use of other rivers and groundwater will help prevent Tokyo from immediately experiencing any shortages, the metropolitan government could begin curtailing the water supply if the reservoirs along the Tone continue to dry up.
The last time such a measure was taken was 1996, when the metropolitan government reduced the water supply for more than a month beginning Aug. 21. Some factories were forced to close on weekdays and operate on weekends, while a limited number of households in the region had their water turned off.
According to the Meteorological Agency and other forecasters, the Kanto region is expected to see no more than an average amount of rainfall in the next month. Temperatures are expected to remain relatively high.
"It is still unclear if we will need to cut the water supply," the metropolitan government said, adding that "it all depends on the weather."
The metropolitan government website is asking people to avoid wasting water, such as when taking showers or brushing teeth. It also recommends reusing bath water for other purposes, including laundry.