Kanto may face water shortage

by Tomohiro Osaki

Staff Writer

The early end to this year’s rainy season has put the Kanto region at risk of a water shortage this summer, with record-low water levels reported Tuesday at dams along the Tone River, the government is warning.

Total water reserves at eight dams along the nation’s second-longest river stood at an all-time low of 232 million cu. meters for the date of July 9, or three-quarters of the average level, according to the land ministry.

The Meteorological Agency said the rainy season in the Kanto region ended Saturday, about 15 days earlier than usual.

In addition to the short rainy season, little rainfall in May is also affecting water levels.

In Kurihashi, Saitama Prefecture, where the river’s water observatory is located, rainfall in May remained noticeably low at only 46 mm, or about 40 percent of the average. June saw the level return to normal, but it was not enough to offset the losses in May, a land ministry official said.

Since the annual rice planting season is largely finished, the ministry official expressed guarded optimism that demand will be lighter for agricultural use of water, but warned the scorching heat might lead to a rise in household use.

Dams along the Tone River serve as a vital source of water for people living in six Kanto prefectures: Tokyo, Chiba, Saitama, Gunma, Tochigi and Ibaraki.

2,594 heatstroke victims

kyodo

In the first week of July through Sunday, 2,594 people were taken to hospitals nationwide due to heatstroke and three died, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency said in a preliminary report released Tuesday.

The figure was 3.6 times more than the 729 marked in the last week of June.

The sharp increase was the result of heat waves that struck nationwide as the annual rainy season ended. Temperatures topped 35 degrees in many parts of the country over the weekend.