Foreign Policy magazine has a good article about the drought in central China, which is probably the worst in 50 years. They question whether some aspects of the drought have been exacerbated by the Three Gorges Dam, and note how hard it has been on the farmers who live in central China:
The Yangtze, and all who depend on it, are suffering. In May, freight shipping was halted for a 140-mile stretch near the central city of Wuhan due to low water levels. In the parched central provinces of Hubei and Hunan, farmers have been struggling to keep vegetables alive, delaying planting the summer rice crop and losing livestock. The farmers’ woes aren’t theirs alone. The People’s Daily reported on May 28 that in just one week the price of some key vegetables jumped more than 10 percent at a time when the central government is desperately trying to control inflation.
Meanwhile, rolling blackouts have hit central and southern China as many of the dams on the river are operating below capacity. That includes the Three Gorges Dam, whose operator reports that water levels behind the dam are 40 percent lower than usual. Shanghai, which receives a portion of its electricity from Three Gorges, is one of many cities feeling the crunch. Last week, Shanghai’s largest utility company announced that factories and retail stores could soon face outages.
At least they have some good news in the short term: the forecast calls for 8 straight days of rain in the area, starting tomorrow.