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Shrinking major lake a victim of drought

[ 2009-11-17 14:31]     字号 [] [] []  
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Dongting Lake, the nation's second largest freshwater lake, has decreased by more than 90 percent compared with its average capacity during the flood season, a local official said.

Presently the lake's total volume is about 770 million cubic meters, less than 10 percent of the average volume during the flood season, Jiang Yimin, director of Hunan provincial environmental protection bureau, told the Economic Information Daily yesterday.

The lake is located in the middle reaches of the Yangtze River. Successive years of drought in the upstream areas have led to the lake's low volume, it reported.

Water levels at the Songzi, Hudu and Ouchi rivers, three tributaries of the Yangtze River, have dropped since 1974.

The lake's water area, which spans Central China's Hubei and Hunan provinces, measured about 538 sq km in mid-October, only 40 percent of its capacity in September, Xinhua reported.

The operation of the Three Gorges reservoir has exacerbated the drought, leading to a decrease in water flow into the lake, the newspaper quoted anonymous experts as saying.

In the 1950s, about 150 billion cubic meters of water flowed from the Yangtze River into Dongting Lake each year. From 1990 to 1998, the annual flow into the lake was lowered to 88 billion cu m. Water flow into the lake was merely 1.53 billion cubic meters from September to October in 2006, the report said.

The lake's water volume dropped again after the project on the Three Gorges reservoir began to raise the reservoir's water level since mid-September.

The water level at the reservoir had been scheduled to reach its peak of 175 m by the end of October. But the original plan was postponed due to the severe drought that struck the vast areas in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River.

The drought has caused wetland areas to shrink around Dongting Lake, reducing the lake's self-cleaning capacity. It has also affected local agricultural production and drinking water safety.

China has more than 24,800 natural lakes, but they are disappearing at a rate of about 20 every year, Xinhua reported this month.


1. What has led to the lake’s low volume?

2. What provinces does the lake’s water area span?

3. How many natural lakes are there in China?


1. Successive years of drought in the upstream areas.

2. Central China's Hubei and Hunan provinces.

3. More than 24,800.

(英语点津 Helen 编辑)

Shrinking major lake a victim of drought

About the broadcaster:

Shrinking major lake a victim of drought

Nancy Matos is a foreign expert at China Daily Website. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, Nancy is a graduate of the Broadcast Journalism and Media program at the British Columbia Institute of Technology. Her journalism career in broadcast and print has taken her around the world from New York to Portugal and now Beijing. Nancy is happy to make the move to China and join the China Daily team.