WUHAN, May 23 -- A planned test run of the middle route of China's ambitious south-north water diversion project on June 1 is likely to be postponed due to drought in the area from which the water is sourced.
Liu Song, deputy head of the control center of the Danjiangkou Reservoir Management Bureau, said the water level in the reservoir was measured at 140.1 meters on Friday, far from the required normal water storage level of 170 meters.
The plan was for water from Danjiangkou in central China's Hubei Province to feed into the pipeline between June 1 and August 20 on a trial basis.
After 10 years of construction, the middle route water diversion system has linked the reservoir with 19 arid cities including Beijing and Tianjin and more than 100 smaller towns in north China.
However, drought affecting the Hanjiang River since winter has led to a decrease in the level of water stored in the reservoir, with it falling from 145 meters in October to 140.1 meters on Friday, according to the bureau.
Liu said no foreseeable precipitation can be expected to feed enough water to the reservoir by the middle of June. The Hanjiang River's flood season is forecast to begin after June 20, helping end the drought.
The Hanjiang River is the largest tributary of China's longest river, the Yangtze. Hydrological experts believe its current drought does not suggest a long-term trend.
The river's average annual runoff has been 6.2 billion cubic meters higher this century than in the 1990s.
China's water diversion project is one of the country's largest infrastructure schemes. It is designed to take water from the south to drought-prone areas in the north via three routes -- eastern, middle and western.
The eastern and middle routes are ready for operation, whereas the western route, which required more sophisticated technology, is still in the research stage.