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China's biggest lake declares 'red alert' as long drought lingers

Reuters logo Reuters 9/23/2022
An aerial view shows a tributary stream running through the dried-up flats of Poyang Lake that stands at record-low water levels as the region experiences a drought, outside Nanchang © Reuters/THOMAS PETER An aerial view shows a tributary stream running through the dried-up flats of Poyang Lake that stands at record-low water levels as the region experiences a drought, outside Nanchang

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - The central Chinese province of Jiangxi has declared a water supply "red alert" for the first time after the Poyang freshwater lake, the country's biggest, dwindled to a record low, the Jiangxi government said on Friday.

An aerial view shows a dried up fish habitat experimentation farm at Poyang Lake outside Nanchang © Reuters/THOMAS PETER An aerial view shows a dried up fish habitat experimentation farm at Poyang Lake outside Nanchang

The Poyang Lake, normally a vital flood outlet for the Yangtze, China's longest river, has been suffering from drought since June, with water levels at a key monitoring spot falling from 19.43 metres to 7.1 metres over the last three months.

Dead fish littering the shore as local villager Ye Fa catches fish in a pool of water left by Poyang Lake that shows record-low water levels as the region experiences a drought outside Nanchang © Reuters/THOMAS PETER Dead fish littering the shore as local villager Ye Fa catches fish in a pool of water left by Poyang Lake that shows record-low water levels as the region experiences a drought outside Nanchang

The Jiangxi Water Monitoring Centre said Poyang's water levels would fall even further in coming days, with rainfall still minimal. Precipitation since July is 60% 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 across the Yangtze river basin severely curtailed hydropower output and damaged crop growth ahead of the autumn harvest.

Though heavy rain has relieved the drought in much of southwest China, central regions continue to suffer, with extremely dry conditions now stretching more than 70 days in Jiangxi.

A total of 10 reservoirs in neighbouring Anhui province have fallen below the "dead pool" level, meaning they are unable to discharge water downstream, the local water bureau said earlier this week.

State weather forecasters said this week that drought conditions still prevailed in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze, and efforts were required to seed clouds and divert water from elsewhere.

(Reporting by David Stanway; Editing by Ana Nicolaci da Costa)

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