Friday, August 26, 2011

Millions in China at risk from run-down dams

Terra Daily via AFP: More than a quarter of Chinese cities are at risk from tens of thousands of run-down reservoirs, prompting the government to speed up efforts to make repairs, state media said Friday. More than 40,000 reservoirs around the country have been in use longer than their design life and are poorly maintained due to a lack of funds over the past few decades, the state-run Global Times reported.

As a result, more than 25 percent of Chinese cities and vast rural areas are at threat from potential devastating floods if dams break, it said, citing the state-run China Economic Weekly magazine. "These reservoirs are running high risks, and will ruin farmland, railways, buildings and even cities when they collapse," said Xu Yuanming, an official in charge of reservoirs at the water resources ministry, according to the report.

The ministry was not immediately available for comment. Ecologists have long feared about the safety of China's 87,000 reservoirs, and the giant and controversial Three Gorges Dam project in central Hubei province has caused particular concern.

The government has long held up the world's largest hydroelectric project as a symbol of its engineering prowess, a solution to the frequent floods of China's long Yangtze river and a source of badly-needed electricity. But the dam has created a reservoir stretching up to 600 kilometres (370 miles) through a region criss-crossed by geological faultlines....

The Three Gorges Dam, shot by Tomasz Dunn, Wikimedia Commons via Flickr, under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license

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