The Yellow River, China's second longest river and the "cradle of Chinese civilization", has not had any dry patches for ten months. Experts say that this is the first time in ten consecutive years that no section of the river has zero flow.
The Yellow River contains two percent of China's water resources, but it provides water to 12 percent of the total population and irrigates 15 percent of all arable fields in China.
Since the early 1990s, some parts of the river dried up each year, with the longest period being 226 days in 1997. The river was also dry for 42 days in 1999.Severe droughts and increased irrigation have both triggered the drying of the river, causing inconvenience to the people living in the river valley.
Experts attributed this year's change to a water-conservation program which ordered the provinces along the upper reaches to use less water. A measure adopted by reservoirs also succeeded in conserving water. According to a government order, major reservoirs on the upper reaches must open their floodgates to "support" the lower reaches when the drought season approaches.
However, experts say that the drying of the Yellow River is mainly a result of climate changes and that artificial interference can only ease the problem temporarily.
They urged that new water source be created for the river, or that people should simply divert the Yangtze River to the course of the Yellow River.
Traditionally, the Yellow River is famous for severe flooding. In the past 2,000 years, floods have burst through the riverbank 1,500 times, each time leaving tens of thousands of people homeless and creating enormous economic loss.