Poyang Lake Pays the Price for China’s Progress


While there are those who feel that China’s economy has no limits, I would like to direct your attention to yet another example of where China’s economy is outstripping the basic laws of environmental carrying capacity.

Poyang lake, located in North Jiangxi province is perhaps one of the largest lakes that you have never heard of, and it is likely that it will be lost. At only 5% of its capacity, this lake is the divider between the lower and middle reaches of the Yangtze river, is one of China’s most important sources for fish, and millions of people rely on it as a water source for drinking and irrigation.

According to a report in May of last year:

China’s two largest fresh water lakes – Dongting Lake in Hunan and Poyang Lake in Jiangxi – are both drying up dramatically and, by Friday, 34.83 million people had been affected in the five provinces, the ministry said, citing reports from local civil affairs departments.

.. a condition that has only grown worse in the last 6 months.

Poyang Lake experienced an extended dry season starting last October, as persistent drought cut the water supply for the lake, which is fed by five rivers in Jiangxi and empties into the nation’s longest river, the Yangtze.

And although seasonal shrinkage occurs every year, this year’s drought was particularly severe. The water level at the Duchang Hydrometric Station fell to 7.95 meters, the lowest since its hydrometric recording started in 1952.

It is a problem that requires a multi-stakeholder fix.

A fix where government will have to re-assess how water is priced, corporations (state-owned and private) will have to reassess their operations and identify areas for improved efficiency, and where farmers will have to assess a better way to irrigate their crops.

It is a problem that, as can be seen along the yellow river and the lakes of Xinjiang province, will ahve a far wider impact should the lake be allowed to continue to be stressed.

Should it fail, should it be allowed to fail,  it will mean having to ultimately relocate MORE people, MORE indutries, and losing MORE fields to a problem which has a solution.

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