Three Gorges Dam water discharge helps irrigation

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China's drought-plagued central and eastern provinces are hurriedly using increased water discharges from the Three Gorges Dam to irrigate dry farmlands as the severe drought continues, the country's top drought-relief authority said Saturday.

A statement from the Office of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters said the five provinces of Hubei, Hunan, Anhui, Jiangxi, and Jiangsu, which are suffering from their worst drought in 60 years, have irrigated 8.63 million mu (about 575,333 hectares) of farmlands, as of Saturday, by using the discharge water.

In efforts to alleviate the prolonged drought, China plans to discharge more water from the dam on the Yangtze River. From May 25 to June 10, water flow from the previous 10,000 cubic meters per second will be raised to as much as 12,000 cubic meters per second.

The Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydro power complex, has unleashed more than 2.76 billion cubic meters of water since May and helped raise downstream water levels to 2.72 meters.

The dam has unleashed 19 billion cubic meters of water since the beginning of this year, reducing the reservoir's water level from 175 meters to 150.9 meters at 6 p.m. Saturday, according to the dam.

Another 3 billion cubic meters of water is expected to be discharged in 13 days before the water level hits 145 meters on June 10.

According to data from the headquarters, the five provinces have mobilized nearly 6.5 million persons in fighting the drought since the disaster began. They have dug more than 9,600 wells and launched more than 300,000 submersible water pumps in order to obtain water for irrigation.

Despite the efforts, the China Meteorological Administration forecast Saturday that the severe drought will continue as no rains are predicted in these regions until the end of May.

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