According to Reuters, local authorities just declared a water supply “red alert” for China’s biggest freshwater lake for the first time.

The Jiangxi government on Friday, September 23, said the water level of Poyang Lake dropped to a record low because extreme heat hit many parts of the country.  

The lake, connected to China’s longest river Yangtze via a channel, has suffered severe droughts since June. Its water levels dropped from 19.43 meters to 7.1 meters over the last three months.

Reuters cited the Jiangxi Water Monitoring Center reporting that because the rainfall is limited this year, 60% lower than last year, Poyang’s water levels would drop even lower in the coming days.

Last month, water levels in Poyang Lake had fallen 75% to their lowest level since 1951.

Severe drought continues to hit many provinces in China, including Hunan, Anhui, and Chongqing.

The water level in Dongting Lake, one of Hunan’s largest lakes, fell to 7.3 meters lower than in the same period last year.

Heatwaves have caused economic and social impacts on China. Last month, many factories in Sichuan were forced to close their production operations due to a power shortage. Little rainfall also reduced hydropower generation in the province, leading to power rationing for industrial users since late July.

Low water levels for hydropower stations and spiking demand for air conditioning under high temperatures caused power shortages. 

In late August, as heat waves kept hitting many parts of China, authorities issued at least nine high-temperature red alerts. They also issued a national drought alert to protect crops. According to Reuters, 267 weather stations across China recorded high temperatures in August. As water shortage, crops are expected to suffer lower output before the autumn harvest.

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