Expert: Three Gorges Dam
(ATF) A flood alert has been raised near China’s famous Three Gorges Dam after the country suffered its heaviest rainfall in 70-80 years. Torrential rain has been causing chaos throughout China’s southwest this month, with many rivers overflowing and mass evacuations.
Heavy rains over the past three weeks have led to disasters being declared in 24 provinces and municipalities, especially near the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and the Three Gorges Dam.
This is reportedly the largest flooding since 1949 and has caused serious challenges to the world’s largest dam.
In Chongqing, authorities dredged 100,000 tonnes of silt overnight as levels rose.
Three Gorges is located in Sandouping Town, near Yichang City in Hubei Province in central China. It is 38 kilometres from the downstream Gezhouba Water Conservancy Project at the eastern end of the Three Gorges Reservoir.
Qijiang Online, the media outlet in the area, quoted Zhao Yunfa, deputy chief engineer of the overflow dispatch communications centre at the Three Gorges Project, who said: “The flood storage capacity of the Three Gorges is limited. Do not pin your hopes on the Three Gorges Dam.”
Zhang Shuguang, director of the Three Gorges Corporation Hub Management Bureau, also said that flood control measures for the entire Yangtze River Basin could not rely on a Three Gorges Dam to dominate the flood.
Construction on the dam began in 1994 and ended in 2006 after total investment of about 95.5 billion yuan (US$13.5 billion). The dam itself is 2,335 metres long and has an elevation of 185 metres. The second part of the scheme was a water diversion project. The dam has 32 turbine generator units and power generated by its hydropower station exceeded 100 billion kilowatt hours in 2018, a world record for a single facility.
The dam caused considerable controversy as it displaced over a million people and submerged large areas of the Qutang, Wu and Xiling gorges for about 600km – creating a deep reservoir that ocean-going freighters can navigate for 2,250km inland from Shanghai on the East China Sea to the inland city of Chongqing.
The heavy seasonal rain this month has swamped 24 provinces and municipalities in southern and central China, affecting more than 85 million people and causing damage put at 20.7 billion yuan so far.
Zhang warned that the largest flood since 1949 may occur this year, as rainfall in the dam’s catchment area – it has a reservoir up to 600km long – upstream of the dam poses a serious challenge.
Many plateaus in southwestern Sichuan Province have experienced heavy rain for 24 hours since June 16, and this was expected to continue in some parts of Sichuan until the 23rd (today).
Heavy rain in the upper reaches of the Qinhuai River in Jiangsu Province over the past few days totalled about 280 millimetres, which is equivalent to about 280 litres per square metre (or 11 inches on the old scale). This prompted authorities to issue strong rainfall warnings.
The State Flood Control and Drought Relief Headquarters, which is in charge of national flood control and drought relief work, said that from the 15th, floods had struck 852 provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities in Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan, Jiangxi, Guizhou, and Chongqing, causing 7,300 houses to collapse.
The Ministry of Water Resources said that 148 rivers had exceeded warning levels. For the first time in history the Chongqing section of the Qijiang River Basin issued a red warning, signifying a flood of more than 10 meters.
An estimated 400 million people live downstream of the Three Gorges Dam.
Is the Three Gorges Dam a Ticking Time Bomb?
Damming the Three Gorges (2008): Are the 400 million people living in the Yangtze basin paying the price for living beside the world’s largest hydroelectric dam? Scientists fear it could spark a geological disaster.
The dam was built to ease flooding and power China’s industrial heartland but its facing major problems. “Ever since the water level went up… cracks began to appear in the walls,” says one villager. Yet some say the benefits of lowering pollution far outweighs the negatives. “The electricity generated by the dam is equivalent to the power generated by 50 million tonnes of coal.”
The Corruption Behind China’s Three Gorges Dam Exposed (1999)
….Xing was one among many who feared the country was building too fast and too recklessly. When he designed the Suya Lake Reservoir in 1958 — at the time the largest reservoir in Asia — he was admonished for trying to add more sluice gates. Labeled a “right-wing opportunist,” he was eventually fired for being a vocal critic.
According to an account of the Banqiao Dam by a Chinese journalist writing under the pseudonym Yi Si, on Aug. 8, as workers stared curiously at the retreating water level of the reservoir, a voice in the dark called out: “The River Dragon has come!” And suddenly the dam ruptured, unleashing 600 billion liters of water and destroying an entire village. By Aug. 17, reports Si, 1.1 million people remained trapped by flooding with 50 to 60 percent of food air-dropped into the area floating in the murky waters. It would take weeks for the waters to drain, revealing bloated corpses dotting the landscape in the late summer sun.
The government kept news of the disaster from being broadcast nationally, and there hadn’t been any international observers present. But when China’s Ministry of Water Resources and Electric Power released a study in July 1989, it reported that the dam breach caused more than 85,000 people to die instantly. Two years earlier, “On Macro-Decision Making in the Three Gorges Project,” a study conducted by eight Chinese water science experts who probably had access to censored government reports, estimated the number of total dead — from flooding and the resulting epidemics and famine — at 230,000.
Although the disaster is thought to be the deadliest of its kind anywhere in the world, it’s not common knowledge even inside China. When the dam broke, the Communist Party’s control of the media was near absolute, explains David Bandurski of the University of Hong Kong’s China Media Project. “Generally speaking, disasters of all forms, whether primarily natural in cause or human in cause, have been viewed by China’s leaders as highly sensitive,” he says, with the government loathe to concede culpability…..