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Long Drought Causes Red Alert at China’s Biggest Lake

Officials in Jiangxi province said water levels at a key monitoring spot at Poyang Lake fell from 19.4 metres to 7.1 metres over the last three months.

An aerial view shows a tributary running through the dried-up flats of Poyang Lake at record-low water levels as the region experiences a drought, outside Nanchang, Jiangxi province, August 28, 2022. Photo: Thomas Peter, Reuters.


China’s biggest freshwater lake has dropped to a record low level after a drought lasting more than three months.

Poyang Lake, which is usually a vital flood reservoir for spillover from the Yangtze, the country’s longest river, has greatly diminished in size.

Officials in central Jiangxi province declared a water supply “red alert” on Friday for the first time after water levels at a key monitoring spot at the lake fell from 19.43 metres to 7.1 metres over the last three months.

The Jiangxi Water Monitoring Centre said Poyang’s water levels would fall even further in coming days, as rainfall is 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 heatwave 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.


  • Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard






Jim Pollard

Jim Pollard is an Australian journalist based in Thailand since 1999. He worked for News Ltd papers in Sydney, Perth, London and Melbourne before travelling through SE Asia in the late 90s. He was a senior editor at The Nation for 17+ years.


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