Quake-hit community in Noto Peninsula faces threat of further depopulation

A community in the Noto Peninsula, Ishikawa Prefecture in central Japan, is now facing a threat of further depopulation as it struggles to secure drinking water after the powerful earthquake on January 1.

Residents of the Kawachi district in Nanao City used to rely on natural water sourced from nearby mountains for drinking. But the facility for treating the water was damaged in the quake, cutting off the supply for about three months.

Water supplies resumed last Saturday after the facility was restored, but authorities say they are waiting for test results to guarantee it is fit for drinking.

In the meantime, residents remain dependent on water filtering equipment set up after the quake or bottled water.

The area had 41 households before the quake, but about 30 of them, or more than 70 percent, have left their homes. The evacuees have moved to temporary housing or live with their relatives outside the district.

Some have decided to leave Kawachi for good.

A woman in her 80s, who returned from temporary housing to tidy up her home, said her neighbors all left their homes after the quake. She said while she misses her home, there is no choice but to leave.

The head of a local community association said the entire community has changed dramatically. He said leaving the district was the only option for residents after the quake.

However, he hopes that many of them will return now that the water supply has been restored, even if only partially.