Large-scale droughts hit southern, central China

15:13, May 26, 2011      

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Droughts continue on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River although considerable efforts have been done to ease this situation. The basins of the Yangtze River, the Huai River and the Tai Lake have seen abnormally low rainfall, and even parts of the Huai River have dried up.

The amount of rainfall in the area between the Yangtze River and the Huai River and the southern part of Jiangsu Province has been lower than at any time in the past sixty years. What is worse, the situation is still deteriorating.

"Such a large-scale drought is rarely seen. Since January, the lower reaches of the Yangtze River have been experiencing low rainfall, and the water level of major rivers, lakes and reservoirs in China have been lower than normal. Lakes and reservoirs are severely short of water. The Gucheng Lake is shrinking, and some lakes, such as the Shijiu Lake are drying up," said Tao Changsheng, deputy head of the Jiangsu Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarter and deputy director of the Jiangsu Water Resources Bureau, at a meeting for combating drought on May 24.

The Jiangsu Meteorological Center said the abnormally low rainfall resulted in a scarcity of water inflow to the Yangtze River and the Huai River and caused the current drought.

Artificial rain missions were carried out along the lower reaches of the Yangtze River in the past few days. As of 10:46 p.m. on May 22, 25 artificial rain missions have been conducted. Although the cloud seeding has alleviated the drought of farmlands, the lakes and reservoirs in the downstream areas are still short of water.

Meanwhile, large water diversion activities were carried out to the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. The three trans-basin water diversion projects, namely the Yangtze Water Northward Diversion, the Eastward Diversion and the Qiantang-River-to-Taihu-Lake Water Diversion projects, were launched systematically to divert water to drought-hit areas.

Since October 2010, provincial pumping stations for the Yangtze Water Northward Diversion Project have pumped a total amount of 10.9 billion cubic meters water and prescribed pumping stations have pumped 1 billion cubic meters of water in total.

The Jiangdu Pumping Station has operated for 185 days and pumped more than 4.2 billion cubic meters of water, more than the normal storage amount of the Hongze Lake. The Changshu Water Control Hub has operated for 195 days and diverted nearly 2.9 billion cubic meters water. The Wangting Station has diverted nearly 1.6 billion cubic meters of water to the Tai Lake, which could be used to raise the water level of the Tai Lake by about 0.7 meters. The New Qinhuai River Station has operated for 100 days and pumped 270 million cubic meters water. The Jiangsu Provincial Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarter has temporarily dispatched 81 pumping machines and diverted 24 million cubic meter water.

Presently, the water supply along the Yangtze River for agricultural and industrial production as well as residents' daily use is largely satisfactory. The water levels of the Beijing-Hangzhou Grand Canal are still able to support merchant shipping.

It is forecasted that the rainfall of the Yangtze River, the Huai River and the Tai Lake will remain low for some time, the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze River will keep short of water and the Huaihe River will also see cutoffs. "When the drought can be alleviated is mainly dependent on rainfall. Right now, we can only rely on the sky," said Wei Jiansu, deputy director of the Jiangsu Meteorological Observatory.

By People's Daily Online
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