Many areas of China have seen significant rainfall since June. According to the most recent statistics, 487 rivers in China were flooded above alert levels, reported Chinese state-owned broadcaster CCTV.
The data was released by Zhou Xuewen, Vice Minister of Emergency Management and Vice Minister of the Ministry of Water Resources, during the State Council’s regular policy briefing on flood management and disaster assistance on July 8.
On Baidu, he listed 40 rivers that had surpassed safe water levels and 13 that had undergone record-breaking floods, mainly in Guangdong, Guangxi, Fujian, and Jiangxi.
Furthermore, flood catastrophes have affected 21.805 million people since the beginning of this year, resulting in more than $9.6 billion in direct economic damage.
Many activities have been suspended due to the dam failure in Maoming, Guangdong
On the morning of July 7, Gaozhou City, Maoming, Guangdong, saw severe rain of up to 190mm for three hours, accompanied by Category 6 to 7 thunderstorms.
One fast-food restaurant owner in Maoming told Sound of Hope reporters: “My restaurant is closed today, and there’s no food to buy. The rain is too severe, and flooded water might reach 2 meters in height.”
Li, a Maoming native, remarked in this recording, “It’s been pouring for the past few days. It must have soaked thoroughly. Water from the river is flowing in.”
According to a video shared by the Twitter account @tw tomy, the flooded streets in the Maoming urban area are as large as the sea, and many vehicles have flooded, with garages inundated.
The embankment of Gaoshan village, Xiaodong town, Dianbai district, on the Huaihua river, burst about 8:00 a.m. on July 6, according to NetEase. Water crossed the barrier, flooding the surrounding streets; the river embankment part at the Gaoshan bridge washed away in numerous places, creating unsafe roads and dangerous circumstances.
According to the Paper, the Maoming administration announced the suspension of schools, shopping malls, production operations, transit activities, and market activities. Many trains on the Shenzhen-Zhanjiang railway in Maoming have also been delayed.
Experts explain why Yinde and Guangdong have been hardest impacted
Among the recent flood catastrophes, the one in Yinde, a town in Qingyuan City, Guangdong, received the most attention. On June 21 and July 5, this little-known village was flooded twice in a month.
The video, shared on Twitter on June 24 by the account @TragedyInChina, shows the whole Yinde town immersed in water, with levels up to the roof of a four-story building.
Why did Yinde experience such severe flooding? Wang Yeluo, a Chinese-German hydrologist, told Sound Of Hope reporters that Yinde is located on the banks of the Beijiang River, one of the three most significant rivers in the Pearl River delta, and has two big reservoirs upstream as well as several minor reservoirs on tributaries. The Feilai reservoir near Yinde has been known as the Three Gorges Project on the Beijiang River. When a flood occurs, the reservoir upstream will release the water.
The water level in the middle of the Beijiang River has risen due to heavy rainfall and flood discharge. This year’s flood water level in Yinde city reached 36.10 meters above sea level on June 21. As a result, Yinde was flooded up to the top of a three or four-floor structure.
Expert Wang stated that the Yinde inhabitants hope the Feilai reservoir will release water as soon as possible. The Guangdong Provincial Protection Command informed the locals that the water in Feilai Lake would be unable to be released due to flood water overflowing into Guangzhou. The consequences are unimaginable; Wang hopes the Yinde people realize this. The level of water rising was formerly a natural phenomenon. However, due to the overdevelopment of the Beijiang river water conservation system, the amount of water has become entirely dependent on the reservoir’s dam. Flooding will occur if the water from the dam is released as the floodwaters will surge downstream.
Why do Luoxiang and Nanshui reservoirs in Shaoguan upstream have to release floods during the flood season?
Wang added that the reservoir has its safety plan, so when the flood season begins each year, the first responsibility the CCP gives to all management of the 100,000 reservoirs below is to verify that the reservoir is maintained correctly to pass the flood season without incident. Eighty percent of China’s 100,000 reservoirs are dangerous, and technical quality assurance is doubtful.
People affected by natural catastrophes have often wondered why the government did not tell them ahead of time so that they may evacuate and move their belongings to a safe location before the flood is released.
According to Wang, there are two reasons for the Chinese government’s inability to inform of the flood outflow in advance.
First, reservoir management in China is a contract system, and the reservoir staff’s basic salary is the state’s revenue source. It is based on performance and depends on the reservoir’s operational advantages, such as generating energy, selling water, rearing fish, etc.
Operators are usually eager to preserve water and avoid releasing it. And because the dam could break after severe rains, they needed to discharge water quickly. For example, Guangzhou, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong all ran out of water in February of this year, and the reservoir’s water is essential.
Furthermore, he explained: “If I claim I let the water pass through your house and the flood flooded it, who do you sue for compensation? You will sue the person who informed you, right? But, if the flood is a natural disaster, who are you seeking reimbursement from? No one is required to pay compensation. The CCP constantly refers to it as a natural calamity, and no one will ever be held accountable.”
Wang estimates that the water capacity of the Feilai reservoir—Sanhe project—on the Beijiang river is barely 5% of the river’s yearly flow. A reservoir with such a small capacity cannot withstand big floods and is not a reservoir to prevent flooding.