Hubei Drought reaches extreme level,rainfall in 58 counties hits lowest level


Chinese Society  Updated:Thu, May 5, 2011 09:51 AM   By Bernd Chang


Hubei drought,Rainfall

Photo taken on May 4, 2011 shows cracked soil caused by draught in Dawu County in central China's Hubei Province. 

A serious drought has hit Hubei Province, located in Central China with Wuhan as the capital, since November of 2010, bringing one-third of its counties and cities under serious water shortage. The current drought in Hubei province has reached extreme levels, experts declared this week.

May 4,2011,Wuhan – Reporters is informed from the Wuhan Climate Center of Hubei Province that by May 3, 2011, rainfall has hit new lowest level for up to 58 counties of Hubei. Experts assessed that the current drought in Hubei province has reached criterial of extreme weather.

Since last November, rainfall levels around the lower sections of the Yangtze have been continuously low. For most areas of Hubei, the rainfall has been decreased by 50%, for the north west part, by 60% to 80%. The drought has kept from last winter to this spring.

Data show that the North west of Hubei has seen less than 100mm of rain in the last half year. For the north part of Hubei, the rainfall is about 150mm. These figures are 50% less than the average level in past years. But the drought in northeast of Hubei is even worse, where the rainfall is only 20mm in the last half year, which is 80% less than the average level.

Senior engineer Mr. Liu Kequn of Wuhan Climate Center told reporter that rainfall has been recorded since 1961 for most parts of Hubei. By May 3, rainfall in the last 180 days have hit lowest record in 58 counties including Yinxi, Macheng, Danjiangkou, Laohekou. rainfall in the provincial capital Wuhan is at its lowest level for 60 years.

Agriculture serious affected

Renowned as China's "land of a thousand lakes", Hubei Province is now struggling with a prolonged drought.

The six-month drought has affected Hubei's role as China's major grain and cotton producer, according to provincial governor Wang Guosheng.

About 150,000 people and 50,000 livestock in Hubei have gone without drinking water as a result of the drought. Approximately 13 million mu (about 870,000 hectares) of farmland have been affected by the drought, according to a survey conducted by the Hubei provincial agricultural department.

"An old saying goes 'a bowl of water now will bring a bowl of grain in harvest'. Right now is the vital time for spring irrigation, but we have not seen a drop of rainfall," says Huang Xiangbing, a village committee official.

Drinking water shortage affected many people in Hubei

The lingering drought has already damaged cole and wheat seedlings, and many villagers have seen their wells and ponds dry up.

"The pond has been dry ever since February. As the drought continues, we have had to stop supplying water to our irrigation systems and livestock for the time being," says Yu Chunming, head of Huashan Village, Xiaochang County.

Drinking water for villagers in Huashan is brought in every other day by fire engines, according to Yu.

Water shortage has affected many people in Hubei. The town of Xiadian has dealt with a shortage of drinking water since the Xiadian River dried up over half a month ago.

"Since the water level of the upstream reservoir is so low, we can only pump water three times a day," says Xie Liang, a manager from the town's water supply company.

"Limited supplies of water aren't even enough for cooking purposes. Our teaching staff now have new duties as waterbearers before and after their daily work shifts," says Lei Su, headmaster of the town's junior middle school.

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