URUMQI, May 8 (Xinhua) -- A new region-wide project is underway in Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region to provide drinking water to tens of thousands of people living in its far-flung areas.
Xinjiang launched the drinking water project last year to target 22 impoverished counties located in southern Xinjiang, according to the regional department of water resources.
The drinking water project involves drilling wells, building tap water plants to treat water with fluorine and alkaline, and installing water diversion pipes and sluices.
A total of 120 such infrastructure facilities are scheduled to be completed this year and next to benefit 361,000 more people.
Residents living in Xinjiang's deserts and arid land have been plagued by drought, shortage of water, and substandard drinking water, which are perennial problems.
Tursuntohti Jumet, a farmer, lives in Akhqale Township in Hotan on the southern edge of the Taklamakan Desert.
"Our ancestors once had to draw water from dirty ponds for daily life. In 1995, we started to use well water, but it tasted bitter and was bad for health," he said. "Now the water finally is good to drink, brush teeth with and take baths."
In 2017, the local government invested 14 million yuan (about 2 million U.S. dollars) to build a tap water plant for over 5,500 people in the township.
Regionwide, more than 3 million people in poor areas benefited from a similar project designed to improve drinking water from 2012 to 2018, data of the regional department of water resources showed.