Resettlement of families in the Three Gorges area has been speeded up as the mammoth dam project enters the second phase of construction.
The main Yangtze River will be dammed in the first week of November, with premier Li Peng expected to attend a ceremony. Construction of the main dam will also begin then.
On Monday, a diversion canal was opened to traffic to ensure navigation on the river will not be disrupted.
Xinhua news agency said at least five counties and 19 townships in the reservoir area would be submerged by May.
Zigui, the home village of ancient poet Quyuan, will be the first village to be submerged. The settlement goes back at least 1,000 years.
In Wushan, authorities have spent at least 104 million yuan (HK$96.72 million) on facilities such as pumping stations and telephones in the new districts.
Guo Tao, a vice-director of the Administrative Office of China Yangtze Three Gorges Project Development Corp, said in Hong Kong yesterday the diversion canal was functioning smoothly.
Mr Guo expected construction of the Three Gorges Dam to proceed on schedule and said traffic on the Yangtze would not be affected.