Heilongjiang in grip of severe drought

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 June, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 July, 2017, 8:58am

One of the worst droughts and heatwaves in five decades is drying up rivers and farmland in Heilongjiang, the region long regarded as China's granary and known for its annual ice festival.

Heilongjiang Cable Television said the deepest section of the Songhua River in Harbin had dropped to 1.2 metres - too low to allow river traffic - and all but three of 27 rivers passing through the usually water-rich Tonghe county had dried up.

The Heilongjiang Meteorological Bureau said the average rainfall in the province last month was just 15.6mm, or two-thirds of May's historic average.

Average temperatures across the province last month reached 15.4 degrees Celsius, or 2.1 degrees higher than usual, making it the second hottest lead-up to summer since 1954.

The bureau said that by the end of May, 4 million hectares of farmland were drought-affected, with the worst conditions in the province's west.

Harbin plans to dig 5,000 new wells to supply water to farms throughout the city's jurisdiction, the Heilongjiang Daily said.

Local administrations have turned to rainmaking technology. The provincial government had allocated staff and resources to ensure rainmaking rockets could be fired around the clock.

Dozens of rounds of rainmaking artillery and almost 1,000 workers were involved in inducing 30mm of rain to moisten 882,000 hectares of parched farmland earlier this month in Beian, Jiusan and Baoquanling counties.

'But artificial rain is not so easy if the clouds are not thick enough,' a Heilongjiang Meteorological Bureau official said. 'There was some light rainfall between June 6 and 9 in some parts, but the rainfall in most places in Heilongjiang was just 3mm to 5mm, which didn't help with the local drought at all.'

Some efforts have not impressed residents. Local media reported two rocket shells landed in parks in Daqing . No one was hurt.

The official said the bureau had no estimates on when the next rain would fall.