Tag Archive for 'three gorges dam'

China Rivers at the Brink of Collapse

Photo retrieved from: www.huffingtonpost.com

“China’s rulers have traditionally derived their legitimacy from controlling water. The country ranks only sixth in terms of annual river runoff, but counts half the planet’s large dams within its borders. A new report warns that dam building has brought China’s river ecosystems to the point of collapse.

Since the 1950s, China has dammed, straightened, diverted and polluted its rivers in a rapid quest for industrialization. Many of these projects had disastrous environmental, social and economic impacts. The Sanmenxia Dam on the Yellow River for example flooded 660 square kilometers of fertile land and displaced 410,000 people. Yet because it silted up rapidly, the project only generates power at one sixth of its projected capacity.

In the new millennium, the Chinese government realized that its ruthless dam building program threatened to undermine the country’s long-term prosperity and stability. In 2004, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao suspended dam construction on the Nu (Salween) and the Jinsha (upper Yangtze) rivers, including a project on the magnificent Tiger Leaping Gorge. The government created fisheries reserves and strengthened environmental guidelines. In 2011, it even acknowledged the “urgent environmental problems” of Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, the world’s largest hydropower project.”

Read more: Huffington Post


China declares Three Gorges hydro project complete

Photo retrieved from: www.mtholyoke.edu

“The construction of the world’s biggest hydropower plant began in 1994 and its first generating unit was connected to the grid in July 2003. Official news agency Xinhua said it has already generated a total of 564.8 billion kilowatt-hours, saving nearly 200 million tonnes of coal a year.

But the project, located on the middle reaches of the Yangtze river, cost a total of 254 billion yuan ($39.99 billion), four times the original estimate, and another 123.8 billion yuan has been spent on “follow-up work”.

The project’s 185-metre dam and 600-km reservoir have forced the relocation of at least 1.3 million residents, and the government has acknowledged that earthquake and landslide risks have also increased in the region.

Hydropower construction slowed after building work on the dam was completed in 2006, with several large-scale projects vetoed because of the soaring costs of handling displaced people and protecting the environment.”

Read more: Reuters


China Invests Billions To Avert Water Crisis

Retrieved from: www.google.com

“The vice minister of water resources said China’s unbridled economic growth had left up to 40 percent of its rivers badly polluted and the country faced “huge pressures” on supplies of water.

“Industrialisation and urbanisation, including ensuring grain and food security, are exerting higher demands on water supplies… while our water use remains crude and wasteful,” Jiao Yong said at a press briefing.

Over 46,000 reservoirs in China need to be rebuilt or reinforced to ensure that surrounding farmlands and communities are safe from flooding and have enough water for irrigation, he said.

More funding would also be needed to protect the reservoir of the $22.5 billion Three Gorges Dam — the world’s largest — from geological disasters and pollution, he said.

The government has long held up the world’s largest hydroelectric project as a symbol of its engineering prowess.

But the dam has created a reservoir stretching up to 600 kilometres (370 miles) through a region criss-crossed by geological faultlines and critics fear seismic disturbances such as a huge earthquake could cause a catastrophe.”

Read more: AFP


China’s Drought Threatens Farm Income, Drinking Water, Wildlife and Hydropower

Photo retrieved from: www.ekantipur.com

“To cope with the drought, Beijing ordered the Three Gorges Dam — the world’s largest hydroelectric plant, built at the upstream Yangtze River — to sacrifice its power generation for irrigation and drinking water.

Over the last three weeks, every minute, some 600,000 cubic meters of water — equivalent to the volume of seven Olympic-size swimming pools — was released from the dam to the drought-stricken areas. But this is viewed as a late gift.

“The dam operators lack experience in managing the water flow,” said Yang Fuqiang, a senior adviser on climate and energy at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “They waited for too long until the drought impact reached extremes. And when they finally released water, the natural connection between the river and surrounding lakes was already broken, making it difficult to refill the lakes.”

Water levels in many lakes, streams and reservoirs along the Yangtze River were reported to be close to historic lows, until last week saw heavy rains. In part of the drought-hit regions, the sudden water increase on sun-baked soils caused floods that blocked roads, destroyed houses and displaced families. However, in other parts, some 2 million people are still lacking drinking water.”

Read more: New York Times


China’s Seven River Systems Are All Polluted

Local residents fish in a polluted river in Beijing on March 29. Retrieved from: www.theepochtimes.com

“The overall environmental situation in China is very grim with all seven major river systems polluted, according to Li Ganjie, Vice Minister of the Chinese Ministry of Environmental Protection, speaking at a press conference on June 3 to discuss the Report of the State of the Environment of China (2010).

However, Li refused to comment on recent discussion among the general public that the severity of the current drought is due to the Three Gorges Dam.

Li said the surface water pollution across the country is still relatively grave. China uses a six-grade classification scheme for water quality. Grade 1 is the best, water no worse than grade 3 can be used for drinking, but sometimes requirestreatment, and water worse than grade 5 cannot be used for irrigation.

Of 204 rivers and 209 monitoring points, 59.9 percent of rivers were grade 3 or better, 23.7 percent of rivers were grade 4 or 5, and 16.4 percent failed to meet any grade standard.

The seven major water systems are the Yangtze River, the Yellow River, the Pearl River, the Songhua River, the Huai River, the Hai River, and the Liao River. Overall, the average pollution level is minor, but the Yellow River and Liao River have medium pollution, while Huai River is heavily polluted.

Eutrophication of lakes (reservoirs) is still a prominent problem—an excess of nutrients, for example from fertilizer runoff, causes algal bloom and subsequent problems such as hypoxia or lack of oxygen. Eutrophication was found in 11 of the 26 water bodies tested.

This year, the lower portion of the Yangtze River was hit with the worst drought in 50 years, causing problems for fisheries in the Jiangsu, Anhui, Jiangxi, Hubei, and Hunan Provinces, and leaving many people without drinking water.

Li admitted that the Hubei, Hunan, and Jiangxi Provinces are currently experiencing severe drought, where water levels are at their lowest position in several large lakes, including Poyang Lake, Dongting Lake, and Hong Lake. This is a problem that has occurred very rarely in recent decades.”

Read more: The Epoch Times

Has the Three Gorges Dam created Chinese drought zone?

Farmers and fishermen say the Three Gorges Dam has affected water levels in Dongting Lake in recent years. Retrieved from: www.cnn.com

“Hong is one of millions in China affected by the worst drought to hit China since 1961. As of the end of May, Dongting Lake had already shrunk to less than 45 percent of its usual surface area, according to state-run media. Local conservationists estimate more than one thousand hectares of wetlands located on the east side of Dongting Lake have dried up entirely.

Situated downstream from the dam, Dongting Lake is the second largest fresh water lake in China. But record low rainfall this year has caused sharp drops in water levels in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River, causing the drought to spread throughout Hunan, Hubei, Jiangxi, Anhui, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. The region has suffered from 40 to 60 percent less rainfall than usual. Millions lack adequate drinking water.

However, for Hong, the dry spell is not the only culprit to blame for her fish-less lake. Along with other farmers and environmentalists, she points to the Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydro-power project as a resource nightmare that has exacerbated the drought.

“The Three Gorges Dam has definitely influenced things here,” she told CNN. “The impact is clear.”

Farmer He Shishun agrees. Usually the 49-year-old slowly works his modest plot of land with his aging water buffalo to reap two rice harvests per year along with a variety of fruits and vegetables. This year, due to the water shortage, he will ration his resources and plant just enough for one rice harvest. Unable to grow fresh produce at home, He has been forced to purchase fresh produce for his family at a local market, for high prices that stretch his meager income.”

Read more: CNN



China: County denies drinking water shortage

Retrieved from: www.chinadaily.com

“SHANGHAI – Water authorities in Xuyi county, Jiangsu province, have denied there is a drinking water shortage, although the lingering drought has greatly affected life of the locals.

A report by the Beijing Morning Post, which sent a reporting team to the county to cover the drought, said on Wednesday that the county has cut water supplies for several hours a day for more than two months. That has aroused wide concern around the country.

The report also mentioned the water level of Hongze Lake on the lower reaches of the Huaihe River is the lowest in 45 years.

Xuyi county is located at the south bank of the lake, the fourth largest fresh water lake in the country.

However, Ji Yufan, the director of the flood and drought control headquarters in Xuyi county, denied the link of limited water supplies to drought and said “the situation is much better”.

“Just worse than last year,” Ji told China Daily on Wednesday. “We have enacted a series of drought-relief measures since February.”

Ji said that they established two temporary water supply stations, capable of providing about 500,000 tons of water every day to town residents and farm workers who live in the area.

He also told China Daily that the drought is affecting the rural area more than the town.

“The lack of water supplies in town is caused by the current upgrading of the water supply system,” he said.

“It’s true, the water supply has been cut off for a few hours every day since Chinese New Year,” said Zhang Yun, a staff member of the water and wastewater treatment department of the Xuyi water bureau.

“The current equipment is too old to provide enough water to residents,” she said.

Zhang told China Daily that the water supply will return to normal at the beginning of June when new facilities are completed.

Local residents have been complaining about the restricted supply of drinking water.”

Read more: China Daily


China admits problems with Three Gorges Dam

dam skippy

Photo retrieved from: NatureNews.com

“China has finally admitted that all is not rosy with its Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydroelectric power project. The dam is plagued by problems that need to be resolved urgently, the State Council — China’s cabinet — said last Wednesday.

“The statement was made after a high-level meeting presided over by Premier Wen Jiabao, and highlights issues such as pollution, silt accumulation, ecological deterioration and geological hazards near the dam. It also points out the project’s adverse effects on irrigation, water supply and shipping in downstream regions, which affect an area of 633,000 square kilometres over eight provinces. These problems should be addressed through more research and monitoring, and more efficient dam operation, the statement says.

“The admission was welcomed by Ma Jun, director of the Institute of Public and Environment Affairs, a non-governmental organization in Beijing. “Although China had acknowledged problems in the dam areas before, this was the first time that it admitted the project’s negative impact on the middle and lower reaches of the river,” he says.”

read more: Nature News

Reservoirs Have Little In Reserve

Photo retrieved from: www.panaromio.com

“BEIJING – Nearly 1,600 water reservoirs in Central China’s Hubei province are running at the minimum water level needed for operation, forecasting a prolonged dry spell over the parched province, the local drought relief authority said on Monday.

As of Sunday, the province’s reservoir water storage stood at 9.75 billion cubic meters, a 40-percent decrease from last year. The low water level makes it unlikely the drought can be eased, with two earlier rounds of rainfall but no more forecast in May, the statement said.

The lasting drought has so far affected 889,000 hectares of crops and left 761,000 people and 175,000 livestock in the province short of drinking water.

Hanjiang River, a major branch of the Yangtze River in Hubei, has almost dried up and put a huge strain on irrigation supplies for paddy fields along its range.

The water level of the Danjiangkou Reservoir, part of China’s massive South-to-North Water Diversion Project, dropped to 4 meters below the minimum level.

Honghu Lake, the biggest lake in the province, has seen one-fourth of its 35,300-hectare area dry up, stranding thousands of fishing boats. The water level reaches 30 cm in the deepest areas, where it used to stand at two to three meters.

Hubei Governor Wang Guosheng, also chief of the Yangtze River flood control and drought relief headquarters, said on Monday that the river has experienced the lowest level of rainfall since 1961, with 40 to 60 percent less rainfall on average in drought-stricken provinces in its middle and lower reaches including Hubei, Hunan and Jiangxi.”

Read more: China Daily

78,000 Tonnes of Garbage Collected from Three Gorges Dam After Water Level Raised

Photo retrieved from: www.chinadigitaltimes.net

“Environmental sanitation workers from southwest China’s Chongqing Municipality have collected 78,000 tonnes of garbage from the Yangtze River near the Three Gorges Dam, ensuring the dam’s safe and effective operation after its water level was raised.

More than 68,000 workers in nearly 21,000 boats retrieved the garbage.

In late October, the water level in the dam was lifted to its designed maximum of 175 meters, allowing the dam to play its full flood control, power generation, navigation and water supply roles, said Wang Yuankai, a Chongqing municipal work administrator.

Raising the dam’s water level increased the surface area of water in the dam. It also increased garbage collectors’ workload, with about 60 percent more garbage appearing.

The cleanup operation helped ensure the water quality of the dam and its navigability.

The Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest water-control and hydropower project.”

Read more: China-Wire