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Global warming blamed for declining annual rainfall

Date Posted: 2004-03-11

Annual rainfall in the prefecture has been on decline at least past 100 years, and it seems global warming may be the culprit.

Officials at the Okinawa Environment and Weather Bureau, in a newly released report, say that the decline has increased drastically over the past 20 years.

The past year has been especially dry, and that has lead to situation where an acute water shortage is a very real possibility. Water levels in prefecture’s reservoirs are at historically record low levels; currently well below 50 percent of their capacity at 46.8 percent. The previous record low was marked in 1989, when the dams were filled to 49.6 percent at the same point of March.

Zamami Village is the worst hit municipality in the prefecture, where the water has been rationed on a 12 hours off – 12 hours on basis for more than 235 days. That has prompted Zamami Mayor Mitsuo Nakamura to request urgent relief from Naha City and the prefecture.

Naha City has, in turn, agreed to start shipping water to the island for the first time ever. The first load left Naha Port on Wednesday.

Officials at the Okinawa Environment and Weather Bureau says the reason for the changing weather patterns is global warming. They predict that as the warming continues the water shortage in Okinawa will worsen. They also say that because of the trend, it is likely that the dams will not be sufficient to ensure a reliable water supply in the future and that other means, such as employing desalination plants, should be considered.

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