Thursday, December 18, 2008

Three Gorges Dam tested as water rises

Reuters: Rising water levels in China's giant Three Gorges Dam have triggered dozens of landslides in recent months, damaging houses, land and infrastructure worth millions of dollars, state media said on Thursday. In July, China finished evacuating residents from the last town to be submerged by the massive 660-km (400-mile) long reservoir on the Yangtze River, ending an exodus of some 1.4 million people that began four years ago.

The 2,309-meter-long dam, the world's largest, aims to tame the river and provide cheap, clean energy for the country's rapid development. But critics say rising water levels in the reservoir are eroding already fragile slopes and triggering landslides which could worsen as levels reach their maximum height next year.

The reservoir's administration began withholding water outflows in September to push the reservoir's water level up to 175 meters. But since then, the rising water level had "further induced geological harm including landslides and collapsing of the reservoirs' banks," the Xinhua news agency quoted Chongqing government spokesman Wen Tianping as saying.

"(These) have caused damage or created a latent threat to ... infrastructure, land and housing in dam areas above the evacuation line," Wen said. He added that 93 "surface threats" had emerged in 12 regions and counties around the dam area, causing direct losses of 360 million yuan ($53 million), but had not caused any injury or loss of life….

Three Gorges Dam site, Sandouping, Hubei province, China, shot by Nowozin, Wikimedia Commons, under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License, Version 1.2

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