Half a million residents in Baoji , Shaanxi province , have found their tap water supplies severed as the city's water main broke for the third time this month. Hundreds of thousands of residents were again forced to queue, carrying buckets and wash basins to be filled by fire trucks roaming the city. Some had to wait in freezing temperatures past midnight. More than 100 workers repaired the water main yesterday, but the news spread across the internet, generating a nationwide outcry. The water main has raised eyebrows by breaking 11 times in a decade, exemplifying the poor state of infrastructure even in the country's big cities. The water main broke last Wednesday, prompting Mayor Dai Zhengshe to apologise to residents in a radio address. 'We are building a new water main, and it is expected to be finished early next year,' he said. 'It will work with the old main and secure the city's water supply.' But Mr Dai denied responsibility for the issue, saying: 'The frequent breaks in the water main are due to some historical reasons.' Mr Dai is believed to have been referring to Pang Jiayu , the city's former Communist Party secretary, who was sentenced to 12 years in jail in June for corruption. In the late 1990s, Baoji, an industrial city in western Shaanxi, was caught in a water crisis. The rapidly expanding manufacturing sector had drained so much underground water that people did not have enough to drink. Fengjiashan, one of the province's largest reservoirs, lies about 30km west of the city, and Pang launched construction of a main to channel water to the city in 1997. The initial budget approved by the National Development and Reform Commission was 130 million yuan (HK$147 million), and the project was finished in 1998. In the next two years, the water main had a test run with limited capacity, and it broke three times, flooding a town and several villages. Investigators blamed the three incidents on the poor quality of the water main. The project management, with Pang as the chief, changed the main and increased the budget to 310 million yuan before handing it over to the Baoji Water Authority in 2000. The authorities said the main had broken almost every year since 2003.