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With a short rainy season this year and a typhoon season that so far has bypassed the island, Okinawa officials are getting nervous about a potential water shortage.

Water levels at the island’s 10 reservoirs are at some of the lowest levels in a decade and are nearly 30 percent below the average level, said Hiroki Higa, a senior official for the Okinawa Prefectural Enterprise Bureau, which manages the island’s water supply.

If the current trend continues into November, water will be rationed, Higa said. Okinawa had a 16-day rainy season this year, one of the shortest on record, according to the Okinawa Meteorological Observatory. The average rainy season lasts about 46 days, said Kunio Uechi, a forecaster for the observatory.

Much of the precipitation this month came in isolated showers that fell outside the reservoirs’ reach, Uechi said, causing water levels to drop to 64 percent.

Uechi said rainfall for the coming months is expected to be average.

The bureau is working to prevent water levels from dropping further, Higa said.

A water desalination plant in Chatan is producing about 9.7 million gallons of pure water daily, to help to meet a daily demand of more than 10 times that amount, he said.

Okinawa officials are urging the public to take extra steps to conserve water, like turning off faucets while brushing teeth or washing dishes.

"We are doing the best we can to avoid the worse scenario of water rationing," Higa said.

Officials at Kadena Air Base are monitoring the water situation and civil engineers are developing a conservation plan should the shortage increase, said 18th Wing spokesman Maj. John Hutcheson.

The base currently has conservation policies to help curb excessive water use, he said. Residents are not allowed to water their lawns or wash cars at home.

"If water rationing does occur, additional restrictions will be put in place," Hutcheson said.

Residents and employees on the base use an average of 3.8 million gallons of water a day, Hutcheson said.

Marine officials at Camp Foster were not immediately available for comment Wednesday.

Stars and Stripes reporter Natasha Leecontributed to this story.


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