Dismantle the Three Gorges Dam, Expert Says
Gorges Dam in Xiling, central China’s Hubei province in July 2010. (Olli
The Three Gorges Dam is a huge failure and
should be dismantled, the sooner the better, an expert says.
17-year project on the Yangtze River that has submerged many communities and
displaced at least 1.4 million people, was to control and harness China’s
mightiest river, and stand as a symbol of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP)
greatness and power over nature.
But since the dam’s completion in 2006,
nature has not cooperated. Drought and “every kind of disaster,” to quote one
local official, have descended upon the region.
The dam project has also
become a financial sinkhole, requiring hundreds of billions yuan in ongoing
Extreme weather has been the norm along the Yangtze River since the Three
Gorges Dam project was completed and started collecting water in 2006.
Ever-worsening droughts have been hitting southwestern China and the downstream
Yangtze region year after year since then.
In 2006, the lowest water
levels in 130 years were registered near Chongqing. It was even worse in 2007.
In 2008, the dry season began one month earlier. And the 2009 drought extended
all the way into 2010.
This year, a drought not seen in 50 years is
scourging provinces in the downstream Yangtze River region. The river is
withering. At the same time, to generate electricity, the dam is holding back
water, leaving little for the lower reaches of the river. Drinking water for
tens of millions of people and livestock is threatened. Rice crops are failing.
Some areas were also hit by electricity shortages.
Before the Three
Gorges Dam was built, snow melting at the source of the Yangtze created big
annual floodwaters in the upper reaches of the river. Now the floods are not as
plentiful, and even if there’s water in the upriver, the dam cuts off the water
flow to the lower reaches, a Yangtze River Waterway Bureau official by the surname Zhang, told The Epoch Times.
project that was hailed by the CCP as being able to secure the region’s top
needs–power generation, inland shipping, flood
control and agricultural irrigation–has failed.
On May 18 the
regime’s State Council issued a “Three Gorges Dam Post Construction Plan,”
admitting for the first time that problems exist, saying there is an urgent need
for geological and environmental disaster prevention, and issues with the
settlement of evacuees, among others.
Water authorities have increased
water discharge at the dam since May 20 to somewhat mitigate the drought in
downstream river regions.
But Wang Hai, an official of China Three
Gorges Corporation, told
state media on May 26 that four fifths of the reservoir’s regulation
capacity has now been consumed. If there isn’t more water coming down from the
upper reaches of the Yangtze by June 10,the Three Gorges Dam will very likely
stop discharging water even if no rain has fallen in the downstream areas by
then, Wang said.
The reason no more water would be released to the
drought stricken areas, is that it would cut into the profits of the corporation
in charge of generating electricity from the dam.
An official at the
Ministry of Water Resources told The Epoch
Times that discharging water from Three Gorges Dam affects the power
generation for the China Three Gorges Corporation. The main purpose for the
Three Gorges Dam Project is electricity generation. Therefore the water that
flows into the Three Gorges Dam is money, he
What early critics of the dam project have predicted and warned of is now
coming about. Many geological disasters have befallen the provinces along the
During last year’s rainy season the Yangtze region was hit
by a flash flood. Authorities said the dam was threatened and discharged
additional water to save the dam. Thus the downstream flooding was made worse
and almost turned into a national disaster.
Opening the dam’s flood
gates during flood season and storing water during dry season has become an
emergency type regulation that is called “reverse regulation.” Water experts in
Hunan Province have been strongly objecting tothe Three Gorges Dam authorities’
use of reverse regulation because it worsens natural disasters.
completely solving some old remaining issues, new geological disasters
followed,” an official of the Chongqing Committee of Chinese People’s Political
Consultative Conference told Time
Officials in Jiangxi Province complained to the central
government, saying that the 2010 drying up of Poyang Lake, China’s largest
freshwater lake, was directly related tothe Three Gorges Dam’s reverse
Since 2008, 243 geological disasters have occurred in the
dam’s Chongqing section alone, causing a total landslide volume of about 165
million cubic meters.
“We have become a live museum of geological disasters,”
Cheng Gongxun, an official of Fengjie County told Time Weekly.
kind of geological disaster imaginable, including mud and rock flows,
landslides, and collapses of river banks, have been seen in Fengjie,” Cheng
More…Cost of Damage Control
Cost of Damage Control
Problems brought about by the Three Gorges project have become reasons for
Three Gorges officials to ask for money from the central government. To solve
evacuee relocation issues and geological disasters during the so-called post
Three Gorges period, 170 billion yuan (US$26 billion) were allocated in 2009,
about the same amount as the cost of building the dam.
The main purpose
of the regime’s May 18 “Three Gorges Dam Post Construction Plan” was to resolve
the remaining issues of the Three Gorges project. An official who participated
in compiling the plan said, “The total amount of money requested from all areas
to resolve remaining issues exceeds 400 billion yuan (US$61.6 billion),” the
Time Weekly article said.
In 2000, Professor Zhang Guangdou from the
Department of Hydraulic Engineering at Tsinghua University estimated that 300
billion yuan (US$46 billion) would be needed just for water pollution control of
the Three Gorges Dam.
In 2007, China Three Gorges
Corporation announced that 382 million yuan (US$59 billion) will be
allocated for establishing protected areas for rare fish species.
Some experts and scientists have long predicted that the Three Gorges project
would be a “fishing” [for money] project: the initial figure submitted was
small, but more money would be demanded continuously and endlessly.
Weiluo, a Chinese hydraulics expert who now works in Germany, said a big project
like this is a heaven for corrupt Chinese officials. Seventy billion yuan
(US$10.8 billion) was allocated for the resettlement of evacuees, however each
settler received only 5,000 to 8,000 yuan (US$770 – 1,232). The numbers don’t
add up, Wang said.
“Where have the resettlement funds gone? This will
forever remain a secret,” Wang said.
Ecologist Hou Xueyu, who refused to
sign an evaluation report of the Three Gorges
Project 1988, said: “After the dam is built … soil erosion and impoverishment
will escalate; loss of soil and water will intensify; landslides, drought and
flood disasters will ever-increase.”
Hou also estimated that
resettlement would involve more than 113 million people.
Dismantle the Dam?
At present, many discussions critical of the Three Gorges Dam are surfacing
in Chinese media and on websites.
On May 25, the regime’s mouthpiece
People’s Daily even published an article titled: “Post Three Gorges Challenges –
Dismantle the Three Gorges Dam?”
Many Chinese websites have republished
articles written by the late well-known hydraulic expert Huang Wanli of Tsinghua
University, who once told the Chinese regime, “The Three Gorges Dam, if built,
will eventually have to be blown up.”
Wang Weiluo shares Huang’s
assessment. In a recent article titled, “Dismantling the Three Gorges Dam should
be done sooner; later on it won’t be achievable,” Wang said: “If authorities
cannot make up their mind to dismantlethe Three Gorges Dam now, the negative
impact will be even greater in the future, and more money will be required.”
“When silt accumulation [in the reservoir] exceeds four
billion tons, the Yangtze River will no longer be able to carry that much silt
into the sea, and the middle and lower Yangtze River will be blocked, forcing
the river to change its course. Once this occurs, demolishing the Three Gorges
Dam won’t be achievable even if the authorities want to,” Wang