‘Red alert’ in China as drought dries up country’s biggest lake

Water levels on Poyang Lake have plunged after three months of drought with forecasters warning situation could get worse.

Cracks in the dried-up river bed of the Gan River, a tributary of Poyang Lake, with the Nanchang skyline behind.
Cracks run through the partially dried-up river bed of the Gan River, a tributary to Poyang Lake during a regional drought in Nanchang, Jiangxi province, China, August 28, 2022 [Reuters/Thomas Peter]

The central Chinese province of Jiangxi has declared a water supply “red alert” for the first time as a prolonged drought dried up much of the water in the country’s biggest lake.

The provincial government said on Friday that water levels in Poyang Lake, usually a flood outlet for the Yangtze River, had fallen from 19.43 metres to 7.1 metres over the last three months.

The Jiangxi Water Monitoring Centre said the level was expected to fall even further in coming days, given the lack of rain.

Precipitation since July is 60 percent less than it was a year ago, it added.

As many as 267 weather stations across China reported record temperatures in August, and a long dry spell across the Yangtze river basin has hampered hydropower output and hindered crop growth ahead of this season’s harvest.

Though heavy rain has relieved the drought in much of southwest China, central regions continue to suffer, with extremely dry conditions now stretching for 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 have said that drought conditions still prevailed in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze, China’s longest river, and efforts were required to seed clouds and divert water from elsewhere.

Source: Reuters