Three Gorges Dam
Jennii Postles MPO
Super Dams – Triumph or Disaster
The 3 Gorges Dam is a project that will take around 15-20 years to complete. The project is situated on the Yangtze River in central china. The dam will be constructed over the 3 gorge section of the river Yangtze. When completed, it will be a towering 600 feet high and approximately 1.2 miles wide. It will require tens of thousands of workers to be the construction team of the largest dam at present. It is estimated to have a final cost of around £45 billion and will create a lake around 370 miles long.
This diagram shows the location of the construction site of the three gorges dam.
What environmental problems will does the Chinese government believe that the 3 gorges dam will solve?
Over many years, the river Yangtze has been flooding across farmland and cities. This has ruined valuable land and takes a great deal of time to put back the way it was. In the 1996 floods, hundreds of people were killed and millions were forced to leave there homes. Roads, railways and power lines were all cut off. The water that had risen was more than a foot over the danger level. The water that flooded the land was infested with many water born diseases, this water became mixed with the drinking water for many people. All of these problems are aimed to be stopped by the building of the 3 gorges dam. The main problem that the 3 gorges dam aims to solve is the major flood problem from the rivers. These floods are normally caused by the heavy rainfall in every monsoon season and making a massive increase in the river flow in June, July and August. This increase is added to from the snow melt from the Himalaya Mountains. An extract from “the three gorges dam- who will benefit?” states, “The dam’s purpose is to control the devastating annual floods along the world’s third longest river…” this states the main purpose of the dam. Another problem that the dam is suppose to solve is the amount of raw materials i.e. coal that is used up to make energy for powering homes and factories. China contains 1 quarter of the worlds overall population and there fore has a huge consumption of energy per year. The dam can help this by producing Hydro Electric Power (HEP). The power produced by the dam will be enough to power 40 cities. HEP is also a clean and renewable source and is therefore better for the environment than burning fossil fuels. This photo shows the rise of water level during a flood.
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How will the three gorges dam help the Chinese government?
The three gorges dam will be able to generate HEP, this will prevent the burning of fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas. By not burning these fossil fuels, it will make the environment cleaner and it will also save china money because HEP is a renewable source and so it won’t run out; whereas fossil fuel are non-renewable and so they cost a lot to supply and burn. The dam is estimated to provide china with 84.68BkW of Hydro Electric Power per year. The HEP produced by the dam is hoped to be able to pay for the dam itself over a certain amount of time. Another advantage towards the countries economy is that with the dam stopping floods, it will stop the damage to the several cities that get affected during every flood. This will save the country billions of U.S dollars on repairing the damage caused. In the last flood in 1998, the total cost of damage that was caused was around $36 billion.
Views of people in favour of the dam?
There are many different people that are in favour of the three gorges dam to be built. Some of these groups of people include the Chinese government, world resources institute, workers on the construction site and generally people that will earn money from the dam being built. The Chinese government
are in favour of the dam being built because it will be able to protect their country from major flooding and will also gain the country money from the hydro electric power. The World resource institute are in favour of the 3 gorges dam because it will generate HEP which will prevent the country from burning fossil fuels and will make china a cleaner country. This will aid stopping global warming in the future. It also helps to preserve the Earth’s natural resources such as coal and oil because they are non-renewable sources. The workers on the construction site of the dam are in favour because it means that they have employment for up to 20 years. Some points that have been made by the senior engineer of the project show advantage towards the project. For example, navigation on the river Yangtze will be greatly improved by the 3 gorges dam and there will also be picturesque views from the boats for cruises and other travel boats. Also endangered animals such as the white alligator and the Chinese river dolphin will be protected by reserves in the local area. There are other points also such as the advantage of the reservoir that will be created due to the dam being built. The huge lake can be used for fishing and recreation; this can also create opportunities for employment. The reservoir water can also be used to irrigate farmland so that the farmers can produce enough crops to feed their families and to sell so they can make a profit.
Views of people against the dam?
There are also many people that are against the building of the 3 gorges dam, these people include farmers, tourist workers, and people that live in the area that will be relocated by the project. The farmers are against the building of the three gorges dam because they have made a living out of their crops and the land that they own, when the dam is built, the farmland will all be fully submerged and the farmers and their families will be relocated to other areas. In these new areas, the farmers will not get as much land as they had before and the little land that they do get will not be very fertile. This will mean that fewer crops will be grown by the farmers and they may only have enough to supply their family with food and will not be able to make a profit from their crops. Some tourist workers will be against the project because they have made a living from using the river Yangtze and the area that will be flooded for their line of work. Also the area that they will be relocated to will be crowed and will not attract tourists for there is nothing to use as a tourist attraction. This may cause mass unemployment and will affect the countries economy. There are around 1.2 million people that will be relocated and are against the three gorges project because they will have to leave their inherited land that has been owned by their families for many generations. When they move, they will get small flats and little land. They also have to pay loans. Other general views against the dam being built include that the land being built on has seismic activity on it and is therefore prone to landslides. This could either damage or destroy the dam after or during it being constructed. Also, many sites of historical importance will be submerged by the new reservoir; these sites also include historical treasures that have not yet been uncovered. It is also possible for a delta to be created by the head of the lake due to the increasing amounts of silt that are being deposited. There is also a high possibility that during the construction of the dam, wildlife that lives in that habitat may be threatened with extinction, creatures such as the Siberian crane and the White flag dolphin.
These are photos of a Siberian crane and a white flag dolphin; they may both be threatened with extinction due to the three gorges dam being built.
My views on the three gorges dam project?
After viewing all of my information, I have come to a conclusion about my views on the three gorges dam projects. Personally I believe that the dam should not be built. I believe this because I think that they should build a scheme that will not affect people in such a dramatic way. For example, they could get better flood control without having to stop the rivers natural flow by protecting the cities and farmland more. That will preserve the land and will also stop damage being caused. I also think this because it will be a waste of both money and time to build the dam because the silt build up will increase by a massive amount and this will block and then break the huge dam. Another reason is that the economy of china will fail because firstly it will need to loan money off other counties to pay for the construction of the dam, they will need to pay that money back and without as much tourism and farming, they may not be able to pay for they dam as soon as they had hoped. I do agree with the fact that HEP will defiantly help the environment and that it is needed to help prevent the burning of fossil fuels but I think that they can incorporate HEP into the country without the 3 gorges dam.
The photos I collected came from the internet.
I got some of the information collected from both worksheets and the site: http://www.american.edu/ted/THREEDAM.htm