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Drought threatens China's 7th freshwater lake - Honghu lake

06-04-2011 10:58 BJT Special Report:Severe Drought Hits South China |

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The continuing drought in Central China's Hubei is taking its toll on the province's largest fresh-water lake, Hong-hu. Latest statistics show the water in the lake has shrunk to just 12 percent of previous levels. The drought is threatening the lake's ecological environment, particularly the wetland reserve area in the southern part of the lake.

For many Chinese, their acquaintance with Honghu lake is from the folklore which goes, Waves in Honghu Lake chase each other.

But this year's sight is a far cry from that impression.

Waves are hardly seen, and the water levels have gone down drastically.

In the southern part of the lake is an ecological reserve area, established in 2003. In normal times, staff can easily reach the area by boat. But now, the declining water has reduced the surrounding area to wetlands, making it only accessible by foot.

This combined photo taken on June 2, 2011, shows the grass (L, up), sparse lotus leaves (L,
bottom) and the blue-green algae in part of the bottom of the Honghu Lake, which dried up
due to drought, in central China's Hubei Province. A long-lasting drought has almost dried
up the Honghu Lake, the seventh largest fresh water lake in China, destroying the
biological system in the lake area, which experts said would not recover until after at
least 10 years. (Xinhua/Hao Tongqian)

Liu Li, Staff Hongu Protection Zone, said, "This is the buffering zone for the reserve area. Last year, the water level was 60 centimeters, but now the drought has reduced this place to a grassland. "

The drought's biggest damage has been caused to plant and animal species in the area, mostly plants. Pictures from last year serve as a contrast to what it looks now. After years of effort by staff, the coverage rate for waterplants had reached over 90 percent. The place was home to over 42 types of birds, with a total population of 40,000 at the highest point. But now, that can only be seen in pictures.

Liu Li said, "The impact of the drought on water-borne plants is obvious. Currently it only amounts to 20 percent of normal levels. "

This combined photo taken on May 25, 2011, shows the
boats hung on shelves (up), dead fish in the net in
the shallow water (C) and the abandoned fishing nets
in the Honghu Lake in central China's Hubei Province.
A long-lasting drought has almost dried up the Honghu
Lake, the seventh largest fresh water lake in China,
destroying the biological system in the lake area,
which experts said would not recover until after at
least 10 years. (Xinhua/Hao Tongqian)

Zhang Sehngyuan, Ranger Honghu Reserve Area, said, "Usually when you come to the area, you will see around 20 birds. When they see you,they will beckon large groups of their kind, who then will dive and peck at your head until you leave."

But now in the whole area, it's hard to find a bird's nest.

According to staff, at the present, the deepest water is less than 80 centimeters, if it is continues to decline to below 50 centimeters, then emergency measures have to be taken to replenish the water shortage. There are fears that if the drought continues, the last stronghold of Honghu River will face a real crisis.

Photo taken on May 25, 2011, shows shallow water in the Honghu Lake in central China's
Hubei Province. A long-lasting drought has almost dried up the Honghu Lake, the seventh
largest fresh water lake in China, destroying the biological system in the lake area, which
experts said would not recover until after at least 10 years. (Xinhua/Hao Tongqian)

A fisherman sails a boat in a river where there has been no fish in the Honghu Lake in
central China's Hubei Province, June 2, 2011. A long-lasting drought has almost dried up
the Honghu Lake, the seventh largest fresh water lake in China, destroying the biological
system in the lake area, which experts said would not recover until after at least 10
years. (Xinhua/Li Xiaoguo)

Large quantities of blue-green algae cover a river linking to
the Honghu Lake in central China's Hubei Province, June 2,
2011. A long-lasting drought has almost dried up the Honghu
Lake, the seventh largest fresh water lake in China, destroying
the biological system in the lake area, which experts said
would not recover until after at least 10 years.
(Xinhua/Hao Tongqian)

Photo taken on May 25, 2011, shows part of the bottom of the Honghu Lake, which dried up
due to drought, in central China's Hubei Province. A long-lasting drought has almost dried
up the Honghu Lake, the seventh largest fresh water lake in China, destroying the
biological system in the lake area, which experts said would not recover until after at
least 10 years. (Xinhua/Hao Tongqian)

A villager washes clothes in a river linking to the Honghu Lake in central China's Hubei
Province, June 2, 2011. A long-lasting drought has almost dried up the Honghu Lake, the
seventh largest fresh water lake in China, destroying the biological system in the lake
area, which experts said would not recover until after at least 10 years.
(Xinhua/Li Xiaoguo)

Editor:Du Xiaodan |Source: CNTV.CN

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