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Entertainment Record floods raise questions about China's Three Gorges Dam

10:25  14 july  2020
10:25  14 july  2020 Source:   reuters.com

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) - As China counts the costs of its most punishing flood season in more than three decades, the role played by the massive and controversial But critics say the historically high water levels on the Yangtze and its major lakes prove the Three Gorges Dam isn't doing what it was

Flooding below China ' s Three Gorges raises questions about dam Continued flooding below Three Gorges Dam puts integrity, purpose in question Massive

a boat sitting on top of a mountain: FILE PHOTO: A view from the Three Gorges dam over the Yangtze River in Yichang © Reuters/Carlos Barria FILE PHOTO: A view from the Three Gorges dam over the Yangtze River in Yichang

By David Stanway

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - As China counts the costs of its most punishing flood season in more than three decades, the role played by the massive and controversial Three Gorges Dam - designed to help tame the Yangtze river - has come under fresh scrutiny.

Amid some of the heaviest rainfall on record, the Chinese government says the world's biggest hydroelectric plant has reduced flood peaks, minimised economic losses and slashed the number of deaths and emergency evacuations.

But critics say the historically high water levels on the Yangtze and its major lakes prove the Three Gorges Dam isn't doing what it was designed for.

3 dead, thousands evacuated in south China flooding

  3 dead, thousands evacuated in south China flooding BEIJING (AP) — Flooding and mudslides in southern China have killed at least three people and forced evacuations for thousands of people, official media reported Tuesday. China’s national observatory issued a high alert for rainstorms across vast stretches of the country for the next 24 hours. Floods and mudslides began impacting villages and towns in the southwestern Guizhou province on Monday, state broadcaster CCTV reported. It put the number of dead at three and evacuations at more than 15,000. To the north, about 40,000 people had to move to higher ground after waters rose in the Qijiang River in the sprawling mega-city of Chongqing.

The Three Gorges Dam has been called China ' s most ambitious project since the Great Wall and the world’s largest construction job. The Three Gorges Dam project may be the world’s last such project because big dams are becoming increasingly unpopular.

China dam warning: Claim ‘distorted’ Three Gorges Dam could devastate towns and villages. BEIJING has admitted the Three Gorges Dam has become “distorted” and is in an “elastic state” after speculation that the world’ s largest hydropower project had become structurally unstable.

"One of the major justifications for the Three Gorges Dam was flood control, but less than 20 years after its completion we have the highest floodwater in recorded history," said David Shankman, a geographer with the University of Alabama who studies Chinese floods. "The fact is that it cannot prevent these severe events."

Ye Jianchun, China's vice-minister of water resources, said at a Monday briefing the "detailed scheduling" of water discharges from reservoirs, particularly the Three Gorges, had been effective in controlling floods this year.

He said 64.7 billion cubic metres of floodwater has been stored in 2,297 reservoirs, including 2.9 billion cubic metres at Three Gorges.

The company running the Three Gorges Project also said on Saturday that downstream water discharges had been halved since July 6, "effectively reducing the speed and extent of water level rises on the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze". The total amount of stored floodwater had now reached 88% of the reservoir's total capacity, it added.

At least 12 killed in flooding in southwestern China

  At least 12 killed in flooding in southwestern China BEIJING (AP) — Authorities in southwestern China’s Sichuan province say at least 12 people have died and 10 are missing following heavy rains, adding to a grow toll from summer flooding across the country. Sichuan’s Mianning county was battered by storms on Friday and Saturday, with flooding especially bad in Yihai township, the county government reported. Two vehicles plunged into a river along a flood-damaged highway, and 7,705 people were evacuated in the area. The area lies on a plain at the foot of steep hills that eventually rise to the Tibetan Plateau, the source of China's major rivers.

However, as the Three Gorges Dam released more water, the flood risk further down the Yangtze increased. The water level in China ’ s largest freshwater lake, Poyang But the controversy hanging over the dam has spread to questions about its impacts on drought and the downstream climate.

The Three Gorges Dam is a model for disaster, yet Chinese companies are replicating this model both domestically and internationally. Within China , huge hydropower cascades have been proposed and are being constructed in some of China ’ s most pristine and biologically and culturally diverse river

But parts of the Yangtze, its tributaries and major lakes like the Dongting and Poyang have hit record levels anyway.

Fan Xiao, a Chinese geologist and long-standing critic of giant dam projects, said the storage capacity at Three Gorges amounts to less than 9% of average floodwater.

"It can only partially and temporarily intercept the upstream floods, and is powerless to help with floods caused by heavy rainfall in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River," he said.

Fan said Three Gorges and other major dam projects could even make flooding worse by altering the flow of sedimentation down the Yangtze. The project's need to generate electricity has also undermined flood control, he said.

"When people only consider using reservoirs to solve flood-control problems, they often overlook or even weaken the natural ability of rivers and their lakes to regulate floods," he said.

Japan: several dead in torrential rains on the island of Kyushu

 Japan: several dead in torrential rains on the island of Kyushu © Kyodo / via REUTERS Search for possible inhabitants stranded at their homes by the floods in Hitoyoshi on July 4, 2020. Torrential rains have been falling since Saturday in the island of Kyushu, in the southwest of Japan. Sixteen people are presumed dead, a dozen others are missing. Rescue teams and soldiers from the self-defense forces are still trying to find people stranded in their homes.

Three Gorges Dam , dam on the Yangtze River (Chang Jiang) just west of the city of Yichang in China . The largest dam in the world, it allows the navigation The dam also was intended to protect millions of people from the periodic flooding that plagues the Yangtze basin, although just how effective it has

The Three Gorge Dam also increases shipping down the Yangtze River, which has been used for The Dam has altered the way the Three Gorges looked. It also serves as an environmental impact Since the Three Gorge dam has been complete flooding has gone down but a new problem has

Shankman said that the Three Gorges Dam helps alleviate flooding during normal years, but that it was always likely to be vulnerable to more extreme weather, a problem that is exacerbated by shrinking flood plains downstream.

"The Three Gorges Dam reservoir does not have the capacity to significantly affect the most severe floods," he said.

"Floodwater storage along the middle Yangtze is less because of stronger levees that are less likely to fail," he added. "Both of those things are at play here. This was predictable."

(Reporting by David Stanway. Editing by Gerry Doyle)


Video: "Weather Forecast 08/07/2020" (Evening Standard)

China evacuates thousands after floods threaten villages .
China evacuates thousands after floods threaten villagesThe landslide occurred on Tuesday when 1.5 million cubic metres of earth fell into a tributary of the Yangtze river near the city of Enshi in Hubei province, the Xinhua news agency said, citing local flood control authorities.

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