A severe drought has forced officials in the capital of Shandong province to order the compulsory recycling of waste water, according to a Xinhua report. Jinan's mayor, Xie Yutang, last week signed a decree saying water in urban areas must be recycled from next year, the agency said. Officials said the measure was aimed at cutting urban water consumption by half. The decree applies to water used for flushing toilets, gardening, street cleaning and car washing. It also lays down specific rules for the installation of waste water treatment facilities. New building projects are required to include both water conservation and waste water treatment facilities in designs, and existing apartment blocks must make their waste water systems more efficient. Projects that do not comply with the requirements will be fined. The decision comes as Shandong province suffers its worst drought since 1949. Provincial newspapers reported that the drought had caused more than 10 billion yuan (HK$9.4 billion) worth of damage. The China Daily reported early last week that officials were planning to increase water discharged from reservoirs on the Yellow River to help alleviate Shandong's water-shortage problems. Jinan, once famous for its springs, is one of 40 mainland cities facing serious water shortages.