Worst drought in 50 years along Yangtze
Updated: 2011-05-25 13:38
By Wang Qian (China Daily)
A worker at a railway station in Taiyuan, capital of Shanxi province, unloads coal from a cargo train on Tuesday. Railway authorities in the province are accelerating coal transportation to coastal regions that have been facing power shortages partially caused by severe drought.
"It means half of the lifeline of water conservancy facilities for agricultural use is out of function," he said.
In some major grain production regions of Hubei, irrigation facilities were build in the 1950s or 1960s and were not designed to be effective in severe droughts.
Moreover, some public water conservancy facilities were badly damaged or neglected after the community-based management system changed to the household responsibility system in the early 1980s.
The problems of the water conservancy facilities present a significant challenge for Hubei and most regions in Central and South China.
In the counties near Hunan province's Dongting Lake, the second-largest freshwater lake in the country, the drought poses immediate ramifications.
According to Huang Ying, an official in Nanxian county in Hunan, the drought has cost the area its early rice harvest.
Farmers have been forced to move their water pumps to the center of the river, but some parts of the river are dying up quickly, Huang said.
This year's extreme weather combined with extensive cultivation and poor water conservancy has led to the current plight of central and southern regions, water conservancy experts said.
Southern regions enjoy comparatively abundant water resources, and farmers there are used to extensive cultivation without considering techniques for saving water, said Huang Qi, head of the disaster prevention and reduction office of the Yangtze River Water Resources Committee.
A unified water conservancy system is urgently needed, Huang said, while the central government should build large reservoirs and local governments should attend to regional irrigation facilities.
China announced earlier this year it would invest 4 trillion yuan over the next 10 years to establish multi-level water conservancy facilities.
"The modern water conservancy system is key to utilize and allot limited water resources," Huang said.
Xinhua contributed to this story.
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