China can't dam or divert water quickly enough to keep up with its thirsty population, and the shortage has reached crisis levels in Beijing and other areas.
In northern China this month, farm fields have developed cracks up to 10 meters (32.8 feet) deep. Farmers in Chifeng city have had to delay harvests to avoid injury, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported. According to the Chifeng's hydrological bureau, 62 percent of the city's 51 reservoirs have run dry, Xinhua said. More than 250,000 people are short on drinking water.
In southwest China's Guizhou province in August, a drought affected more than 600,000 people and nearly 250,000 heads of livestock, according to Xihua. Parched soil in rice fields was covered with cracks.
Beijing's water shortage will soon reach 200 million to 300 million cubic meters, even as the city waits for a new diversion of water from southern China, according to state-run media.
Hundreds of other Chinese cities face varying levels of water shortages and deteriorating water quality, even as industries continue to pollute water.
China's quest for water has stressed downriver countries as well. Bangladesh, Burma, Laos, Cambodia, India, Thailand and Vietnam say China's aggressive dam-building is depriving their citizens, especially subsistence farmers and other poor people, of water.