Precise water management mitigates disasters

Source:China Daily Author:China Daily Date:2023-02-20

Aerial photo taken on Sept 10, 2021 shows the scenery of the Three Gorges Reservoir in Zigui county of Yichang city, Central China's Hubei province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Despite a spate of floods around the country last year, the number of fatalities fell to a record low thanks to consistent efforts to divert floodwaters to reservoirs, according to the Ministry of Water Resources.

Due to the high frequency of extreme weather events in 2022, China simultaneously endured floods, drought and salt tides. The "historically rare" conditions made disaster control work extremely complicated, said Li Guoying, minister of water resources, at the ministry's annual work conference recently.

Still, China achieved a "significant victory" in flood and drought control, he stressed.

In 2022, 626 rivers saw their waters swell above flood warning levels. Ten major deluges occurred on major rivers, and 27 bodies of water experienced their biggest floods on record.

Operating on the belief that nothing is more precious than people's lives, water resources authorities managed to mitigate the disasters, the minister noted.

Thanks to the coordinated use of 37 medium-sized and large reservoirs and a major flood detention basin, the ministry ensured the safety of the Pearl River Delta, home to a population of about 78 million. In June, the region's Beijiang River experienced its most severe flood since 1915, he said.

In all, 4,151 medium-sized and large reservoirs nationwide were used to mitigate flooding during last year's flood season, he said. In total, they collected 92.5 billion cubic meters of floodwater.

As a result, the ministry spared 1,649 cities and towns and over 1 million hectares of farmland from inundation, and prevented 6.9 million people from having to evacuate their homes. No dams or dikes collapsed at any reservoir or major river trunks last year.

"A record low number of people were killed or went missing as a result of floods since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, which shows that we have been able to ensure the safety of lives and property to the greatest possible extent," Li said.

He said that reservoirs also played a significant role in addressing the longest drought since 1961 in the Yangtze River Basin.

In a move to ensure the supply of water to 12.2 million hectares of farmland, the ministry released about 6.2 billion cubic meters from 75 medium-sized and large reservoirs in the basin, he said.

Source: China Daily