- From: PaPaPeng <PaPaPeng@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 06 Mar 2008 03:58:35 GMT
On Wed, 5 Mar 2008 14:29:04 -0800 (PST), James <j0069bond@xxxxxxxxxxx>
I wonder why China tries to divert water to the heavy populated areas
instead of resettling people to areas where water is plentiful. The 3
gorge dam proved that a huge population can be relocated. Would it be
easier to have people move away from Beijing instead of trying to
supply Beijing with water?
We are talkig about the transfer of water to relieve a whole watershed
affecting some 300 millions or more people. You haven't even got a
grasp of the most fundamental issues.
Go google the updated articles on this subject.
Below is a post I wrote way back in 2004.
(PPP: 2008 comment. Once a decade the Yangtze will experience a major
flood. If this floodwater can be quickly and safely channelled to
the Huangho basin there is a good chance that several episodes over
several decades may be enough to recharge the Huangho aquifiers and
thereby reverse desertification. All you have to do is to experience
a single dust storm in Beijing to realise the magnitude of this
China is humongous country. When one part of China is flooded another
part suffers from drought. The Three Gorges Dam reservoir will turn
out to be a critically important water resource. In flood the excess
water will be siphoned off to a parched north. When the north enjoys
good weather (enough rain) and the Yangtze is in want of rain, the
water stored in the 3GD reservior provides insurance against the worst
effects of drought.
Showing a map of where the three diversion channels are. They are
more impressive than I had imagined.
which contains a fact I had wanted to know, that the diversion will
divert only 5% of the Yangtze's annual flow. 5% variation of a
river's flow any river can handle without trouble. This is a very
important statistic because the damming of other great rivers in the
world had caused many ecological changes including delta erosion. The
figure also gives a very good impression of the massiveness of the
Yangtze River as that 5% is equal to the annual flow of the Huangho.
The water diversion project consists of three south-to-north canals
with each running about 1,000 km across the eastern, middle and western parts of the country.
Any adverse effects on the areas the water was diverted
from could be minimized or eliminated through engineering programs, said the vice-minister.
Once completed, up to 44.8 billion cubic meters of water will be
diverted through three man-made channels to the north,
about the annual volume of water flowing in the Yellow River in normal years.
Yuan Guolin, a senior adviser to the China Yangtze Three Gorges Project Development Co., s
aid the volume of water to be diverted from the Yangtze River to the north
would represent only about 5 percent of its total annual flow.
In 1954, a serious flood hit the middle and lower reaches of the--------------------------------
Yangtze River, causing severe damage to the metropolitan city Wuhan. It
took away 30,000 lives, drowned 3.2 million Ha of farmland, and interrupted
the Beijing-Canton railway (Jing1 Guang3 Tie3 Lu4), which is a key railway
connecting the north and the south of China, for nearly 3 months. The
excessive amount of water reached 102 billion cubic meters. But the peak
flow at Yichang was only 66,100 cubic meters per second, relatively small
compared to the floods of 1870 and 1981. Therefore, the downstream
tributaries contributed significantly to the flood of 1954. With the
improvement of the entrenchments and the flood plain management
program, the flood control capacity in this area has been increased by
30 billion cubic meters. It is said that another 20 billion cubic meters
capacity can be obtained with further improvement. If the flood of 1954
is encountered in the future, the 180-meter scheme should be able to
detain about half of the remaining 50 billion cubic meters of flood.
It should be pointed out that, for either case (1) or (2), even the 180-
meter scheme can in no way eliminate the flood threat of the middle and the
lower reaches. It is still important to improve the existing entrenchments
and the flood plain management programs, which, according to the
opponents of TGP, only takes less than 1 billion yuan to obtain an extra
capacity of 50 billion cubic meters. Of course, the fundamental solution is to
restore the environmental conditions, i.e., to afforest the Yangtze and its
tributaries and to return the excessively reclaimed land (e.g., land around
the lakes and on the slopes) to the nature.
A report with emphasis on the enviromental consequences
This URL has many interesting photos.
Backgrounder: Three Gorges Project key to taming Yangtze
With the reservoir of three Gorges Project starting to be filled early Sunday, t
he project will play a pivotal role in controlling and utilizing the Yangtze River, which is China's longest.
When the entire project is completed in 2009, it will be
highly effective for flood control, power generation, navigation, ecological protection and water diversion.
The flood-prone Yangtze was hit by 214 major flooding in the 2, 000-plus years
from Han Dynasty (206-220 B.C.) to Qing Dynasty ( 1644-1911), once every ten years on the average.
The frequent flooding mainly resulted from the fact that in
high water seasons water flowing down the upper reaches of the river
often far exceeded the storage and discharge capacity of the river's middle and lower reaches.
Once the Three Gorges reservoir is in place, the massive water flow from the upper reaches of
the Yangtze can be effectively held back thanks to the enormous storage capacity of the reservoir.
Zheng Shouren, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, predicted that
when the water level rises to 175 meters in the reservoir, its storage capacity will reach
22.15 billion cubic meters. This equals to the combined floodwater storage capacity of
four flood-diversion areas along Jingjiang, a section of the middle reaches of the Yangtze.
As a result, the Yangtze embankments in the Jingjiang section, which
now can only resist severe flooding seen once a decade, will be able to stand a devastating flood occurring once every 100 years.
The Three Gorges Project can also bring about huge economic benefits through hydropower generation.
The Three Gorges Hydropower Plant, producing as much as 84.7 billion kwh of electricity annually after completion,
will play a vital role in the west-to-east power transfer project, which is now under construction.
The Yangtze River, with its source on the Tanggula Range on theQinghai-Tibet Plateau,
has 3,600 tributaries and its trunk course has a total length of 6,300 km.
The river and its tributaries run through 18 provinces with a total population of 400 million, accounting for one third of China's total population.
On average, there has been one devastating flood every 10 yearson the river over the past 2,100 years.
The two big floods in the 1930s alone killed nearly 300,000 people.
Harnessing the river hasbecome a dream of the Chinese people.
At the end of the 18th century, Sun Yat-sen, the forerunner of the Chinese revolution, proposed the building of a dam at the Three Gorges.
With the success of the Three Gorges Project, the further development of-------------------------------------------------------------
the abundant water resources on the upper reaches of the Yangtze is written in the country's future economic blueprint.
The China Yangtze Three Gorges Project Development Corporation is
planning to build four more gigantic hydropower plants, namely Wudongde, Baihetan, Xiluodu and Xiangjiaba,
at the upper reaches of the Yangtze, while the combined installed capacity of
these four plants will exceed 38.5 million kw, double that of the Three Gorges Project.
During the winter dry season the Huang He is slow-moving and silt-laden,
and occupies only part of its huge bed; with the summer rains, it can become a raging torrent.
Since the 2d cent. B.C., the lower Huang He has inundated the surrounding region some 1,500 times
and has made nine major changes in its course. In an attempt to halt the Japanese invasion of China in 1938,
the Chinese diverted the Huang He south, flooding more than 20,000 sq mi (51,800 sq km)
and killing some 900,000 people; it was returned to its present course in 1947.
In recent years, however, extensive use of the river's waters has
severely reduced the flow of the Huang He in its lower reaches.
In 2000 the Chinese government embarked on program to replenish the oversubscribed waters of the Huang He
with those of the Chang (Yangtze); three sets of canals would divert water from the upper, middle, and lower Chang.
Although the work on the upper (western) diversion routes could take as much as 50 years,
much of the work on the other routes was expected to be completed in a decade.
Has photos and reports of the 1998 Yangtze floods.
Known since ancient times as the "Golden Waterway," the Yangtze has
served as a main transmission belt for products and people, with 3,600
rivers open for navigation in its mainstream and its branches for
44,000 miles. In the late 1980s, the volume of goods transported on
the Yangtze represented 80 percent of all goods transported in China.
The fertile Yangtze basin, including the great delta region formed by
the sediment from the Yangtze River, produces 40 percent of China's
grain, 33 percent of its cotton, 48 percent of its freshwater fish,
and 40 percent of the total industrial output of the country.
Along the banks of the Yangtze are situated some of China's major
industrial cities, Chongqing, Wuhan, Nanjing, and Shanghai. Cascading
down from the high mountains southwest of Chongqing, the waters of the
glacial snowmelt flow swiftly through the 200-kilometer long stretch
of majestic gorges, beginning at Fengjie, east of Chongqing, and
gathering strength from the hundreds of tributaries that rush down
from the mountains to meet the Yangtze as it makes its way through the
narrow limestone canyons to the fertile Jingjiang plain below, and on
to the broad Yangtze delta, the famed "Land of Fish and Rice." The
river has a drainage area of 1.8 million square kilometers (km),
accounting for 18.8 percent of China's territory.
During the 2,200 years, from the beginning of the Han Dynasty to the
end of the Qing Dynasty in 1911, there have been 214 floods, an
average of one every 10 years. In this century, there have been five
severe floods. Combined flooding on the Yangtze and the Han rivers in
1911, is said to have claimed hundreds of thousands of lives. The
great flood in 1931, took the lives of 145,000 people, inundated an
area the size of New York State, submerged more than 3 million
hectares of farmland, and destroyed 108 million houses. In the flood
of 1935, 142,000 people were killed.
The 1954 flood inundated 48 million hectares of farmland, affected 18
million people, and claimed 30,000 lives. An additional 18.88 million
people suffered from flood damage, and the operation of the vital
Beijing-Guangzhou railway was suspended for more than 100 days.
Most recently, a major flood in 1996 was followed by an even greater
one in 1998, which led to 3,656 fatalities, and affected the lives of
290 million people. In that flood, there were more than 5 million
houses destroyed and 21.8 million hectares of farmland submerged. The
total economic cost of the 1998 flood for China was $30 billion.
Ironically, the continual development of the Yangtze Basin is
increasing the economic cost of such flooding.
The 1954 flood, which occurred at a time when the area was still
considerably underdeveloped, would today, with the present
agricultural and industrial capabilities, cause 10 times the amount of
More than 200 working groups and almost 10,000 scientific personnel
took part in this nationwide effort. During the first year alone, more
than 700 research reports and papers were published, which partially
resolved a number of the major technical issues of the project, and
provided scientific evidence for the preliminary technical design. Two
areas along the Gorges were chosen for a closer examination of the
bedrock. One was the stretch of the river, indicated by the U.S.
Bureau of Reclamation's John L. Savage, from the entrance of the
Xiling Gorge at Nanjingyuan Pass to Shipai. The bedrock there was
limestone. The other area examined was in the Meirentuo section, along
the upper portion of Xiling Gorge, from Meirentuo to Nantuo, a stretch
of the river about 25 km long. The bedrock there is crystalline
igneous rock. In both areas, a total of nearly 200,000 meters of
small-diameter rock cores were drilled. More than 150,000 meters of
this total was obtained from the igneous rock area, and about 76,000
meters was from Sandouping in the Meirentuo section. After comparisons
were made, the Meirentuo area was chosen as more suitable.
On the basis of the reports from the expert committees, the Yangtze
Valley Planning Office issued the draft "Report on the Main Points of
the Preliminary Design." In May 1958, the Planning Office invited 188
people, from 66 working groups involved in the design work, to discuss
the report, in order to decide on the height and location of a dam.
After 10 days of discussion, it was unanimously decided that the
location at Sandouping possessed "unequivocal superiority."
During the following years, more investigations were carried out,
although with the increased international tensions stemming from the
escalating Vietnam War, and the onset of the disastrous Cultural
Revolution in 1966, a decision on dam construction awaited better
times. At the end of 1969, provincial leaders in Hubei Province, where
the dam was to be located, again called for beginning construction on
the Three Gorges Dam. The Chinese leadership struck a compromise, by
deciding on first building the auxiliary dam further downstream at
The Gezhouba Dam, about 40 kilometers downstream from the proposed
Three Gorges site, was originally conceived as an auxiliary to the
major dam at Sandouping, and was to be constructed only after the main
dam was built. The auxiliary dam was needed, because the construction
of the major dam at Sandouping would have the immediate effect of
lowering the water level through the portion of the canyon downstream
from it, thus seriously impeding navigation there, especially during
the dry season. The building of a second dam downstream would help
maintain the water level in this difficult canyon area. Although there
were still those in the Chinese leadership who opposed the
construction of the Gezhouba (and even of the Three Gorges Dam
itself), Central Committee decided on December 25, 1970, to build the
Located about 3 kilometers downstream from the Nanjingyuan Pass, at
the entrance to the Three Gorges, the Gezhouba construction provided
valuable experience in dam-building to Chinese engineers and workers,
preparing them for the major undertaking at Three Gorges. Gezhouba Dam
began producing electricity in 1981, and was completed in 1988. It is
70 meters high and 2,606.5 meters long, and now produces an annual
output of electricity of 15.7 billion kwh.
The defeat of Jimmy Carter in the Presidential elections of 1980
helped to blunt the edge of the environmentalist attacks, but the
sabotage of U.S. participation in the project did not cease. In the
spring of 1981, a 10-man delegation from the Bureau of Reclamation,
now under new management, was again in China studying the Three Gorges
On his visit to China in 1984, President Reagan was asked by the
Chinese leadership to increase U.S. involvement in this important
project. Reagan, whose outlook, although conservative, was more
characteristic of the Roosevelt era, responded forthrightly. He sent
his former National Security Advisor, William Clark, to Beijing, as
head of a group of people from the Bureau of Reclamation and private
industry, with a wide-ranging proposal for collaboration on the Three
Gorges Project, proposing, in fact, a U.S.-China consortium to build
the dam. The proposal would have made of the Three Gorges Project a
giant joint venture. The Chinese were not so eager to pursue this
"joint venture" route in such a strategically important undertaking.
Interest in the project from the Reagan Administration quickly cooled,
and the joint venture bid was quietly tabled.
Much of the material for the hearings had been provided by the
Worldwatch Institute, whose founder was zero-growth guru, Lester
Brown. In recent years, Worldwatch has published multiple tracts
touting the old Malthusian argument that raising the standard of
living of China and other developing countries, would require a
substantial increase in their food consumption, and could increase the
risk of famines!
Some of the popularity of this discredited doctrine, which totally
ignores the element of productivity rises resulting from technological
advances in agriculture, was caused by the fact that such zero-growth
programs do not require much investment. The World Bank, the prime
funder in the postwar world for many infrastructural projects in the
developing sector, had 100 experts participating in the Feasibility
Study of the Three Gorges Project in the mid-1980s. But after the
project finally got under way, the Bank invested no funds. Instead, it
became a promoter of "appropriate [that is, labor-intensive]
technologies" for developing sector countries. The World Bank's claim
was that large projects were not "economical," according to its
(The Chinese have well understood the "cost-benefit" of projects such
as the Three Gorges Dam. The obvious direct economic benefit of the
dam will be the avoidance of billions of dollars in damage to farms
and property during floods, not to mention the enormous loss of life,
and other losses, caused by the bursting of dikes, the threat to the
city of Wuhan, the suspension of operation of the railway, and so on.
In writing about the project, the Chinese point out that the dam can
also prevent flood damage to the ecology and environment, the
occurrence of which may contribute to famine, the spread of infectious
diseases, large numbers of refugees, and further environmental
problems. But in the end, as the Chinese point out, "All of the
significant benefits are uncountable, and can hardly be measured in
The environmentalists-in reality, white-collar Nazis-cloaked their
attacks on the dam in fictitious arguments about how "small projects"
benefit people more than larger enterprises, and were more
"appropriate" to develop countries than those bigger infrastructural
projects. Because the entire history of the United States, especially
the development of the Tennessee Valley Authority in the 1930s under
Roosevelt, belied these arguments, these zero-growthers were also
forced to alter the historical record. In 1985, William U. Chandler,
another associate of the Worldwatch Institute, published a book titled
The Myth of the TVA, in which he attempted to discredit the role the
TVA played in raising the standard of living for millions of people.
Once the dam is completed, the raising and lowering of the water level
in the reservoir behind the dam will provide the ability to control
flooding (see figure, below). As the flood season approaches, from the
end of May to the beginning of June, the water level in the reservoir
region will be lowered to the flood control level of 145 meters, with
the expectation that storage capacity will be needed during the flood
season. After the passing of the potential flood peak, the water that
has been stored, to a maximum of 175 meters, will be safely
discharged, and the reservoir will again be lowered to 145 meters.
By October, the reservoir level will be gradually raised to 175 meters
to allow the power station to meet the demand for electricity;
regulating the water storage will be used to guarantee power output.
Between January and May, the reservoir storage level will be lowered
to increase the flow downstream during the dry winter season. At the
beginning of the spring, the level will then be appropriately low, in
preparation for the possible summer floods.
The first stage of construction, from 1992 to 1997, involved the
building of two phase-one cofferdams to shut off the flow of the river
from the construction site, and the re-routing of the river through an
artificial diversion channel. Barges and other ships pass through the
diversion channel, or if the river floods, through a temporary
shiplock built for that purpose. Additional infrastructure, such as a
new major highway road, the Three Gorges Project Expressway, was built
to reach the otherwise inaccessible mountainous region, in order to
transport the tons of materials excavated from the construction site.
Along the Expressway there are 34 bridges and 5 double-lane tunnels,
including a 3,610-meter single-line tunnel, which is the longest in
China. In addition, a major suspension bridge, the Xiling Yangtze
Bridge, was built over the Yangtze River downstream from the dam site.
During the first stage, the site for the permanent shiplocks was
excavated, and the foundation laid for generation unit number 1 of the
left-bank powerhouse. Construction also began on a vertical shiplift,
a one-stage vertical hoisting system, which will accommodate those
lighter, 3,000-ton passenger ships which may require a quicker route
through the dam than the five-step shiplock, which is designed to
accommodate larger vessels.
Now during phase two, from 1997 to 2003, the construction of the left
bank dam section is under way; the left-bank powerhouse will be
completed with the installation of some units, and construction of the
spillway and continued construction of the permanent shiplock are
taking place. The spillway dam, placed in the mid-section of the
structure, is 483 meters long with 23 bottom outlets and 22 surface
sluice gates. With a maximum discharge capacity of 102,500 cubic
meters per second, the project is able to discharge the maximum level
of water possible during floods.
In December 2002, before the flood season in the spring of 2003, the
phase-three cofferdams in the diversion channel will be finished, and
the reservoir water level will be raised to 135 meters. At this time,
the permanent shiplock will be ready for use, and the diversion
channel will no longer be needed for navigation. According to the
scheme for the second stage, 17 million cubic meters of concrete will
be poured, 180,000 metal structures will be installed, and
approximately $10 billion will be invested. The water level will be
raised to the 135-meter level, creating the reservoir behind it,
stretching 600 km back to the city of Chongqing. Construction will
continue on building the right bank dam and the second power plant.
By the end of phase three, the water level behind the dam will be
raised to its final 175-meter level. The reservoir formed in the upper
river will be longer than the Grand Canyon, with an average width of
about 1 kilometer, approximately twice the width of the present river.
It will have a total storage capacity of 39.3 billion cubic meters
including a flood regulation and storage capacity of 22.15 billion
cubic meters. This will effectively increase the flood control
standard of the hard-hit Jingjiang section of the river, between the
gorges and the city of Wuhan, from the present standard of sustained
10-year floods to the standard of 100-year floods. Even if there were
a flood of the size that occurs only once every 1,000 years, the vast
plains on both sides of the section of the river below the dam, with
the appropriate flood diversion and retention capacity, would now
significantly limit the damage.
The reservoir will considerably improve navigation upstream on the
river by raising the river's level between Chongqing, and the city of
Yichang, which is just downstream from the dam. That stretch of the
Yangtze through the Gorges, so well loved and oft written about in
Chinese song and poetry, consists of 139 major treacherous shoals and
fast-moving rapids, and 46 control sections, where only one-way
traffic is possible. Downstream, in the Jingjiang section of the
river, navigation is difficult when the river level is low because of
the ubiquitous sandbars. The river is well-nigh impassable during a
large part of the year; during the dangerous flood season in the
spring and summer, and during the dry season in the winter.
In the days before motorized boats, and indeed, until only a few
decades ago, when the river was low, the upstream trip demanded the
services of dozens of trackers, who would, sometimes at the risk of
their lives, use ropes to pull boats up the river, walking along
narrow paths carved into the cliffs, or along the shoreline. Motorized
propulsion has made the trip easier, but it still requires a
knowledgeable captain, who knows the nooks and crannies of this dragon
river, to take the passengers safely to their destination.
Even then, occasional avalanches take place, which pour massive rocks
into the river, thus changing the contours of the river bottom, making
the going treacherous even for old river hands. The raising of the
water level in the massive reservoir region will slow the flow of the
water and submerge the dangerous shoals. This will allow barges in the
10,000-ton class to sail upstream to the harbors of Chongqing. It is
estimated that there will be a five-fold increase in the amount of
shipping to Chongqing, and even ocean-going vessels will be able to
reach it. This will increase the annual one-way passing capacity to
Chongqing from the present 10 million tons, to 50 million tons, and
transportation costs will decreased by about 35 percent.
In addition, with the regulation of the reservoir, the minimum flow
downstream of Yichang in the winter dry season will be increased from
the present 3,000 cubic meters per second to more than 5,000 cubic
meters/s, thus improving navigation also in the middle reaches of the
Yangtze. Because it will be able, during low water conditions, to
release water from the reservoir to the middle reaches of the Yangtze,
the Three Gorges Project will also increase navigation along the
mid-stream Jingjiang section of the river.
The creation of the reservoir upstream will also improve water
conditions downstream, diluting sewage and improving water quality in
that part of the river.
The Three Gorges Hydropower Station is comprised of two power plants,
situated on each side of the central spillway, with a total of 26
generating units. As a result of the U.S. decision in May 1996 to
prevent the Export-Import Bank of the United States from guaranteeing
loans for American companies interested in bidding on components for
this vast hydropower project, eight of the turbines and alternators
are being built by a consortium made up of GEC-Alsthom
(Franco-British), and ABB Asea Brown Boveri of Switzerland. The
contracts for another six, valued at $320 million, went, in 1997, to
Germany's Voith and Siemens AG, and to GE Canada. The only large U.S.
industrial company involved in the Three Gorges Project is
Caterpillar, Inc., which has supplied about $30 million of
earth-moving and other equipment. Rotec Industries Inc. has also sold
about $20 million of equipment to China.
Each generating unit has a capacity of 700 MW, the size of a baseload
powerplant. The total capacity will be 18,200 million MW, with a
planned annual power generation of 84.7 billion kilowatt-hours. It
will be the single greatest power plant in the world, about 1.44 times
bigger than the largest existing hydropower project built jointly by
Brazil and Paraguay at Itaipu. The energy produced annually by the
Three Gorges station would replace 40 to 50 million tons of coal, and
relieve the corresponding stress on the nation's railway system, which
transports the coal.
In the aftermath of the refusal of U.S. government institutions to
involve this nation in the Three Gorges Dam project, because it would
supposedly "harm" the environment, Qin Zhongyi, vice president of the
China Yangtze Three Gorges Development Project told China Daily, July
7, 1996, that unlike the American approach of "preserving" the
environment, the Chinese approach is to "correct" the ecological
problems in his country.
The Three Gorges Dam is necessary to save the lives of millions of
people, as another "century flood," like that of 1870, is threatening
the Yangtze, Qin said. "Erosion and silt buildup have swayed the
natural balance of the river, and engineering is the only means
available to restore the balance, aside from resorting to God's
mercy," he explained.
In fact, the 1998 flood-which killed more than 3,000 people, required
the evacuation of 13.8 million people, destroyed millions of houses,
and ruined 4.78 million hectares of crops-was less severe, in terms of
the amount of river flow, than previous floods. But the build up of
silt, largely the result of the erosion of land along the banks, had
raised the height of the river and the flood diversion regions,
leading to widespread flooding.
A great deal has been made of the need to resettle as many as 1.2
million people from the lower slopes of the gorges, west of
Sandouping, which will be inundated to create the great reservoir
behind the dam. According to government figures, there are 846,200
people living there now who will have to be relocated. (The figure of
1.2 million, often quoted in the press, includes the natural
population growth expected between the start of the project, and its
completion in the year 2009.)
The opposition to resettlement, from "human rights" groups to
environmentalist groups, has devoted thousands of pages of articles to
the plight of the farmers in this region, and the failure of the
government to adequately provide a new life for them. There have even
been warnings that dissatisfied peasants may rise up in violent revolt
against the authorities.
There is no question that the resettlement is an enormous job. The
reservoir region behind the dam will inundate 17,160 hectares of
farmland, and 3,867 hectares of riverside land will be flooded. It is
estimated that 34.8 million square meters of rural and urban houses
are below the inundation line. Also, land will be lost to the
construction of roads, electricity transmission lines, communications
lines, and other infrastructure.
According to one estimate, between 1949, when the People's Republic of
China was founded, and the mid-1980s, more than 10 million residents
have been affected by the building of reservoirs and other
hydrological projects. The policy initially was to compensate them
with a one-time payment to make up for the property they were to lose.
But because there were not adequate opportunities for new work for
those who were relocated, when that payment was exhausted, the
relocated individuals had to turn to the government for help.
The one-time compensation policy has been replaced with the policy of
"population relocation for development," the goal of which is to raise
the standard of living of the relocated population, by providing
employment and better living conditions after the move. In a
development-oriented policy, the resettlement should be integrated
with the development of the economy, the exploitation of resources,
and construction in the reservoir region to increase productive
capability, improve the living standards of the relocated individuals,
and raise the environmental quality.
Today, one sixth of the total population in the region from which
people will be moved, roughly 3 million people, is below the poverty
line. Because about one quarter of the land that is cultivated along
the gorges exceeds a 25-degree slope (cultivation on which has now
been forbidden), the soil is heavily eroded. According to a 1982
census, in Wan County, a district with 7.5 million people, there were
only 13 secondary-school or university graduates per 10,000
population, whereas the national average is 44. The illiteracy rate of
the population over the age of 12 was 31.9 percent.
Most of the Western press has stressed only the problems, and vastness
of scale, of the resettlement program. But during an interview with
Wan Jiazhu, Vice President of the China Three Gorges Project Corp., on
August 11, 2000, reporter Martia Sharp from Star Weekly in Germany
remarked: "In Germany, moving even 100,000 people is impossible,
whereas the TGP [Three Gorges Project] will move than one million. May
we say Chinese people have a sense of taking into account the interest
of the whole?"
Wan Jiazhu replied, "That is right." When the dam was being planned,
he said, "representatives of the upstream area [who will be moved]
investigated the middle and downstream area. They understood that in
the case of a large flood, people in the downstream plain area would
have no way to escape [no hills to mount]. They thought it would be
worth it to sacrifice some [of their] interests."
Asked whether the burden is "quite heavy" in being the Vice President
of the Corporation, and a water resources expert, Wan Jiazhu replied,
We Chinese people have studied TGP for more than 70 years. Several
generations of engineers expended the painstaking labor of their whole
lifetime [on this project]. I have participated in the study of this
project for more than 30 years; I am the third generation. I am
inspired with enthusiasm, and feel my burden is very heavy, and I will
do my best for the Three Gorges Project.
The possibility of the collection of silt in the huge reservoir to be
created by the dam has been a main objection by the dam's opponents.
Problems of silt buildup at the Aswan Dam in Egypt, and others around
the world, have added to this concern. According to the Chinese,
extensive and detailed studies on sedimentation in the reservoir
region began in the early 1950s, and concern has increased, as the
existing reservoirs and water diversion areas have been filling with
silt. The successful solution to the possibility of the silting of a
dam's reservoir, achieved with the Yangtze Gezhouba Dam has provided
18 years of experience on how to solve such a problem.
Historical data suggest that the amount of silt content in the Yangtze
River cannot be determined by examining only a few years' data,
because the silt content can change dramatically, depending upon
precipitation and its distribution in the region. The sediment load,
for example, was 361 million tons in 1986, 320 million tons in 1992,
and 210 million tons in 1994, with higher years in between. Based on
more than 40 years of observations, sediment discharge averages about
526 million tons per year.
Unlike other dams, where the water storage for flood control is
essentially static in non-flood years, and silt builds up year after
year, the water in the Three Gorges Dam reservoir, which is not a lake
but the widened river, will be raised and lowered throughout the year,
to make room for flood waters in the spring, and to increase the flow
downstream during the dry winter period.
During flood periods, between June and September, when 84 percent of
the sediment comes down from the upper reaches of the river, the dam
will release water downstream so that the reservoir can remain able to
store flood waters at a height of 145 meters. Sediments will be
flushed out through the sluice gates with the water when the flow of
the Yangtze is high. The remaining sediment will be kept in dead
At the end of the flood period, when there is less sediment content in
the water, the reservoir will be impounded for power generation, and
for aiding navigation, at the 175 meter level. Toward spring, the
water level in the reservoir will be lowered again to the flood
control level, at which time the sediments deposited in storage will
be flushed out with the increased water flow.
The operational mode is to "store clear water but release muddy
water." In this mode, it is estimated that after about 100 years, when
a balance is reached between deposition and flushing of sediment, 86
percent of the flood control capacity of the reservoir, and 92 percent
of the active storage of silt, will be preserved.
The Chinese describe the Yangtze River as "China's treasure house of
freshwater aquatic resources." Although there are more than 1,000
aquatic species in the river, including 370 species of fish, what is
important is that freshwater fish production in the river accounts for
more than half of the nation's total, and is an important source of
protein. These include, in particular, black carp, grass carp, silver
carp, and bighead fish, described as the "Chinese Four Family Fish."
Changes in the flow of the river, the deposition of sediment, and
other factors will influence the balance of fish species in the
Yangtze. The experts expect that fish that move up to the higher
reaches of the river to spawn and cannot navigate past the dam will
decline, but that there will be an expansion of the habitats for the
fish that favor living in still water, in the reservoir region. Also,
some spawning fish will adapt, and not necessarily suffer a decline.
The Yangtze, together with the Yellow River, is one of the great
sources of the origins of Chinese civilization. Some remains go back
as far as 600,000 years ago, when so-called Lantian man inhabited the
area. Remains from 100,000 years ago, when a group of hunters
inhabited Hubei province, have also been found. Early forms of
agriculture date back to 6,000 B.C. Many new sites and cultural
discoveries have been made in the archaeological work where the great
dam is being built. As much of the area will soon be under water, it
is of prime concern to save as many as possible of the cultural
artifacts before the area is inundated.
There are an estimated 108 sites of important cultural and historical
value in the area of the Three Gorges Project. Some of these sites are
located above the 175-meter water mark of the new reservoir, and will
not be touched. The famous White Emperor City (Baidicheng) that is now
on dry ground, 180 meters above the river, will remain, and become an
island, surrounded by rivers on three sides. But many are not above
the water mark.
Some of the relics, including entire buildings, like the Zhangfei
Temple at Yunyang, will be removed from their present site, to a
higher location or to a museum. Some of the tablets found carved on
stones in the river will have to be reproduced or protected. The key
question at this point, is the amount of money that will be available
for such preservation work from now until the area is inundated. Since
this is such an important treasure, not only for China, but for the
world, one would hope there would be more resources put into the
preservation project from the international community. In a very
- Chinese water
- From: James
- Chinese water
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