A delegation of ambassadors from various countries including Brazil, Italy, Mexico, Pakistan, South Korea, Spain, and the United Kingdom, recently toured the Three Gorges Dam. At the dam they were joined by a delegation of online influencers and foreign media journalists.
They were there to learn about the combined effects of the Three Gorges project on water conservancy and hydropower, clean energy, and ecological protection.
After completion, the Three Gorges project has already demonstrated a wide range of benefits that serve the community. The benefits include:
- The risk of a flood event along the Jing Jiang River, the weakest section of the Jianghan Plain, has been raised from “one in 10 years” to “one in 100 years”.
- Annual power generation capacity from the project exceeds 100 billion kilowatt-hours, benefiting half of China.
- The annual freight volume passing through the Three Gorges surpasses 100 million tons, six times higher than before the construction of the reservoir, while transportation costs have been trimmed by nearly 40%, transforming the Yangtze River into a veritable “golden waterway”.
The delegation climbed to the top of the Three Gorges Dam to take in a panoramic view of the wide “water highway” where cargo ships can be seen shuttling freely, turning the natural fortress of the Gorges into an open road.
While standing atop the Three Gorges Dam, the visitors learned more about the role of the project in transforming the Yangtze River in terms of shipping, flood control, power generation, and water resources utilization.
Celia, a video blogger from Guatemala, said, “I am deeply impressed with the ability of the Three Gorges Dam to generate electricity. I am deeply struck by the fact that it can serve as a bulwark against mega-floods while also vastly improving navigation along the huge waterway.”
What Did the Three Gorges Dam Actually Cost?
The cost of the Three Gorges Dam is estimated at $37.23 Billion. Despite the cost, the Three Gorges Dam remains a popular tourist destination with over 1 million visitors this year alone.
Why Was it Controversial?
By using water resources in major rivers like the Yangtze there are clear long-term benefits to the people. In particular, the dams can be used for flood control, irrigation, navigation, power supply, etc., However, there is a potential negative cost. We can solve some difficulties, but at the same time, we create other problems, such as man-made issues.
The negative impacts of dam construction are quite complex, and the Three Gorges Dam is no exception. Even after an extensive evaluation, there are currently a lot of uncertainties when analyzing the physical, ecological, and geo-environmental influences of a project.
While it is well accepted that a major dam project with beneficial results brings positive effects to humankind. The reverse is true where the negative effects on Nature can have disastrous consequences for all. There is still a lot to learn about major dam projects and this will always leave room for skeptics.
Identifying negative outcomes is a long-lasting challenge that simultaneously gives us great opportunities to study and research both the positive and negative effects of the Three Gorges Dam. The major areas that need constant monitoring are earthquakes, landside, and water quality.
List of Pros for the Three Gorges Dam.
The Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest power station by installed capacity. Located in Hubei Province, China, the Three Gorges Dam spans the Yangtze River and was completed in 2012. The Three Gorges Dam has several advantages, including the following:
The Three Gorges Dam generates hydroelectric power.
The dam’s 32 main turbines have a combined generating capacity of 22,500 MW and can annually generate over 100 TWh of electricity – enough to power over 60 million homes.
The Three Gorges Dam helps to control flooding.
By impounding the Yangtze River, the Three Gorges Dam helps to regulate water levels and prevent devastating floods. In fact, since the dam’s completion, there have been no major floods on the Yangtze River.
The Three Gorges Dam boosts navigation on the Yangtze River.
By creating a large reservoir, the Three Gorges Dam has made year-round navigation possible on the Yangtze River. This has led to increased trade and economic activity in central China.
Improved Recreational Access.
When construction on the dam began in 1994, one of the primary goals was to improve recreational access along the Yangtze River. In the past, the river was notoriously difficult to navigate due to its rapid currents and dangerous rapids.
However, the dam has helped to create a more stable environment, making it possible for tourists to enjoy activities such as swimming, boating, and fishing. In addition, the Three Gorges Dam has created new opportunities for economic development, such as shipping and trade.
List of Cons for the Three Gorges Dam.
The Three Gorges Dam has been a controversial topic since its conception in the early 1990s. Here are five of the biggest cons for the Three Gorges Dam.
It has been known to trigger earthquakes.
One of the most serious concerns is that the Three Gorges Dam could trigger earthquakes. The dam is located in a seismically active region, and the weight of the reservoir behind the dam is enormous. Geologists have warned that the Three Gorges Dam could increase the risk of earthquakes, and there have been several notable earthquakes in the area since the dam was completed.
One such earthquake was in 2008. A magnitude-8 earthquake struck China’s Sichuan province, killing over 80,000 people. The Three Gorges Dam was not damaged in the earthquake, but it is thought that the weight of the reservoir may have amplified the seismic waves.
While there is no definitive proof that the Three Gorges Dam is responsible for these earthquakes, the potential risks are clear. The Three Gorges Dam is a remarkable feat of engineering, but it also poses a real risk to the safety of those who live nearby.
Local infrastructure struggles with the dam’s total capacity.
The Three Gorges Dam is the largest hydroelectric power plant in the world, and it has been a source of great pride for the Chinese people.
However, the dam has also caused some significant problems for local infrastructure. The dam is so large that it has created a reservoir that is 300 miles long and 1 mile wide. This has put immense pressure on the nearby roads, bridges, and railways, as they are now handling far more traffic than they were designed for.
The Three Gorges Dam has changed the landscape.
The Three Gorges Dam is the world’s largest hydroelectric dam and a true engineering marvel. When it was completed in 2006, the dam spans an impressive 2.3 miles across the Yangtze River in central China.
The Three Gorges Dam has had a profound impact on the landscape, both physically and environmentally. The dam has created a large reservoir that has drowned ancient towns and displaced over 1.3 million people. The reservoir has also altered local weather patterns and caused an increase in seismic activity.
The Three Gorges Dam is a controversial project with a complex legacy, and there is no doubt that it has profoundly changed the landscape of China.
Increased water pollution levels.
The dam spans the Yangtze River and was built to generate renewable energy, control flooding, and improve navigation and shipping.
However, the Three Gorges Dam has also had several negative environmental impacts.
One major impact is increased water pollution. The dam has created a reservoir that is shallower and warmer than the natural river, which has led to increased algae growth. The algae bloom has choked out oxygen and decimated fish populations.
Another major problem has been over the silting levels and the way they affect the ecology of the region.
In addition, the dam has also caused pollution from industrial and agricultural waste to become trapped in the reservoir. As a result, the Three Gorges Dam has had a major negative impact on water quality in the Yangtze River basin.
The Dam has created a human migration problem.
One of the most significant impacts of the dam has been on human migration. Before the dam was built, approximately 1.3 million people lived in the reservoir area.
However, when the dam became operational in 2003, the water level rose by 60 meters, submerging many villages and towns. As a result, approximately 1.3 million people were forced to relocate.
The Three Gorges Dam has created a massive human migration problem, one that is still being felt today.
The Yangtze River Shrinks as a Heatwave, and Drought Threatens Crops.
The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River is facing its worst drought in over a decade, as a severe heatwave and lack of rainfall have caused the river to shrink to dangerously low levels.
The recent severe drought has already had a devastating impact on crops, with over 1.6 million hectares (4 million acres) of farmland affected. The Three Gorges Dam is a critical source of irrigation for farmers in the region, and the drop in water levels is jeopardizing their livelihoods. In addition, the drought is also putting strain on the dam’s hydroelectric power plant, which supplies electricity to millions of people.
The Chinese Governments solution to the drought is to push forward plans to build yet more dams upstream of the Three Gorges Dam. There are once again both pros and cons but environmentalists are concerned as the projects are moving closer and closer towards ecologically at risk locations.
One positive outcome of the severe drought has been the historic Buddhist relics that were covered by water when the dam was built have now re-appeared. Some say that is a warning not to mess with mother nature.
Sources: THX News, China Radio International, Reuters, Frontiers, China.org, NRC Research Press, Bloomberg & Vittana.