China swings into flood defenses as 97 rivers exceed warning levels
Published: May 27, 2021 08:14 PM
Photo taken on July 18, 2020 shows the Three Gorges Dam opening the floodgates to discharge the floodwater on the Yangtze River in central China's Hubei Province. The Three Gorges reservoir in central China's Hubei Province has seen the second flood along the Yangtze River in 2020, the largest one arriving at the reservoir so far this year. At 8 a.m. on Saturday, the inbound flow of water reached 61,000 cubic meters per second while the outbound flow was 33,000 cubic meters per second, with 45 percent of floodwater withheld in the reservoir, according to the China Three Gorges Corporation.Photo:Xinhua

Photo taken on July 18, 2020 shows the Three Gorges Dam opening the floodgates to discharge the floodwater on the Yangtze River in central China's Hubei Province. Photo:Xinhua

China has swung into gear to fortify its flood-defense network ahead of what may be a heavy flood season, with 97 rivers across the country having already exceeded warning levels as of Thursday. 

Observers said the Three Gorges project will be able to handle greater flooding than last year, so there's no need to hype the "deformation theory."

Along the Yangtze River basin, 47 reservoirs have been prepared to relieve floods, with a total flood control capacity of 69.5 billion cubic meters. Most of these reservoirs have been discharged to full levels, Wang Wei, an official with the flood and drought disaster prevention office of the Ministry of Water Resources, told state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) on Thursday.

The water level of the Three Gorges Reservoir was 150.83 meters as of Wednesday, and it is expected to fall under the flood limit before June 10 as planned, Wang said. The Yangtze River Water Resources Commission urged local authorities to be on 24-hour alert and set up a reporting system to cope with severe flood concerns.

The Ministry of Water Resources said that China is likely to see floods in seven major river basins, CCTV reported. Since May, at least 97 rivers have exceeded warning levels, a rise of about 10 percent from a year earlier. 

Rivers in parts of southern China are experiencing record highs. In the coming weeks, precipitation is expected to rise further, Sun Chunpeng, director of the hydrological information and forecast center under the water resources ministry said in an interview with CCTV on Wednesday.

Poyang Lake, the country's largest freshwater lake located in East China's Jiangxi Province, is likely to have water above the warning level around Thursday, according to forecasts, CCTV reported. Last summer, Poyang Lake suffered unprecedented floods as water levels broke the 22.52-meter record set in 1998.

"This year's rainy season has come earlier than usual but it is still within the normal range. Last year, China recorded record heavy rainfall, so the chance of this year being the same is low, but extreme weather is unpredictable due to the impact of global warming," Cheng Xiaotao, the former head for the Institute of Flood Control and Disaster Reduction, with the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, told the Global Times on Thursday. 

During heavy rainfall seasons, some Western media are obsessed with spreading slander over the Three Gorges project on China's Yangtze River, hyping a "deformation theory." This was commonly seen last year, when there was a record flood reason. 

Cheng said that "the public should have confidence in China's flood control capabilities. No need to worry over such baseless theories. The dam weathered a deluge of over 70,000 cubic meters per second previously, and it has leeway to deal with even greater flooding." 

Wang Hai, director of the reservoir management department of the river basin management center under the China Three Gorges Corp, told the Global Times in an earlier interview that the Three Gorges project was designed to prevent a once-in-a-century flood. The flood last year was a once-in-40-year level, not enough to pose a risk for the Three Gorges Dam.

Wang said that the dam is prepared for any kind of test. Last year, the Three Gorges Reservoir underwent a test involving a record high inbound water flow, the highest since the reservoir was built in 2003, the Xinhua News Agency reported.