The central Chinese province of Jiangxi has declared a water supply a “red alert” for the first time after the Poyang freshwater lake, the country’s largest, shrunk to a record low.
Most important points:
- Poyang Lake, China’s largest freshwater lake, is in the grip of a severe drought
- The water level has dropped nearly 13 meters since June, triggering a “red alarm” for the water supply
- And if no rain is forecast, there are calls to divert water from elsewhere
Lake Poyang has been suffering from drought since June, with water levels at a key monitoring site dropping from 19.43 meters to 7.1 meters in the past three months.
The lake is normally an essential flood drain for the Yangtze, China’s longest river.
The Jiangxi Water Monitoring Center said Poyang’s water levels will drop even further in the coming days, with minimal rainfall still.
Rainfall since July is 60 percent lower than a year earlier, it said.
As many as 267 weather stations across China reported record temperatures in August, and a long dry spell in the Yangtze River basin severely curtailed hydropower production and damaged crop growth ahead of the fall harvest.
While heavy rainfall has alleviated drought across much of southwestern China, central regions continue to suffer, with extremely dry conditions now lasting more than 70 days in Jiangxi.
A total of 10 reservoirs in neighboring Anhui province have fallen below the “dead pool” level, meaning they cannot discharge water downstream, the local water agency said earlier this week.
The state’s weather forecasters said this week there is still drought in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze, and efforts are needed to seed clouds and divert water from elsewhere.