Big dam starts fill-up after worst drought in 50 years

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 September, 2011, 12:00am


The Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest water-control and hydropower project, started collecting water yesterday in an effort to fill it up to its maximum 175 metres by the end of October, state media reported.

The dam had been discharging water in the past four months downstream to ease the worst drought in 50 years, which had dried up many parts of China's longest river, the Yangtze. Four-fifths of the 22 billion cubic metres of water in its reservoir, located in central Hubei province, were used up within one month from May to ease the aridity in central and southwesterns regions.

The dam was ordered to release the water after local governments downstream complained in the wake of the drought, which started to plague the middle and lower Yangtze at the beginning of the year. Many people blame the massive dam, already controversial, for drying up sources and for triggering climate change, resulting in little rainfall.

The dam was now discharging less water to the lower Yangtze, Xinhua yesterday quoted an official with the project as saying. The operation could last until the end of October or November. Xinhua said the water level had been at 152 metres, and was expected to rise by 23 metres.

It would be the second time the reservoir had full water storage, the report said. The first was its first full-capacity test, in October last year.

Operating at full capacity should give full play to the dam's functions of generating hydroelectric power and delivering water to the lower reaches to alleviate spring droughts.

The facility mainly comprises the dam, a five-tier ship lock and 26 hydropower turbogenerators.

The Three Gorges Dam project was launched in 1993 with a budget of 180 billion yuan.