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China Three Gorges Dam —— Development and Conflicts

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1 China Three Gorges Dam —— Development and Conflicts
WANG Qiming Science Counsellor 12 June, 2012 It is my great pleasure to have chance talking about China Three Gorges hydraulic engineering project, the world largest dam project in terms of power generation. Along with my presentation, I will also explain some key issues of China’s water policy. The Three Gorges Dam attracts world eyes not only because of its marvels of project scale and power generation of hydro-electricity, but also because of controversy over the potential damage on the eco-system and social impacts.

2 Along with China becoming an agricultural state, water irrigation has always been an issue of extreme importance. Construction of irrigation system is the key water policy in China. Before we touch the Three Gorges, let us look back the Chinese history, from a point of view by looking at the Chinese water policies in the very beginning of civilization. We have a lot legendary stories closely related with water, in particular of Yellow River and Yangtze River. The story of 大禹治水 “Dayu controls flood” is known to every Chinese that Dayu was so concentrated in the job that he forgot to return home three times when he had chance passed by. Because of his success, he was then chosen as the King in the first dynasty in the Chinese civilization four thousand years ago, that is Xia Dynasty.

3 History of Irrigation System
Dujiangyan is an irrigation infrastructure built in 256 BC during the Warring States Period of the Kingdom of Qin. It is located in the Minjiang River in Sichuan province, 56 km northwest of the capital Chengdu. It is still in use today to irrigate over 5,300 square kilometers of land in the region. Another well known hydraulic engineering project is Dujiangyan, an irrigation infrastructure built in 256 BC in the Warring State Period.

4 Map of Sichuan Province

5 This slide shows the over all map of the project for irrigation
This slide shows the over all map of the project for irrigation. Li Bin, then the governor of the Sichuan, organized people to build a dyke in the middle of the Minjiang River that divides water into outer and inner parts to reduce water current. Then at the mountain foot, he cut the rocks to open a canal with 60 metres wide and 80 meters long to introduce water into Chengdu basin. Ever since Dujiangyan irrigation project completed, Chengdu basin is called “Land of Abundance”.

6 Grand Canal (China) Between AD, emperor of the Sui dynasty ordered a number of canals be dug from Hangzhou in the south to termini in Beijing. It links the river systems of the Qiantang River, the Yangtze River, the Huai River, the Yellow River, the Wei River and the Hai River. The second example is the project for navigation, another important water policy of China. Grand Canal plays a very important role in providing transport of north and south for exchange of products, such as food, timber, stones in a large quantity.

7 Map of China With Major Rivers
Dujiangyan Grand Canal Three Gorges In terms of water distribution, there are actually two China, one in north, low precipitation and dry land with annual rainfall less than 400 mm, and another in south, wet and excessive water during Monsoon season with annual rainfall above 1500 mm. It has been a long time people dream to transfer ample water in south introduced to north.

8 South-to-North Water Diversion Project requires construction of three routes, stretching across the eastern, central and western parts of the country with 44.8 bn cubic metres of water diverted annually and expected cost $62 bn. The third case is the example of use of water for the benefit of improving living quality. This is still an on-going project. Diverted water only for drinking purpose, and Eastern and Central Routes under construction due to completion by The so-called Western Route, getting water from Yangtze River, even some sayings to get water from Lancang-Mekong River is still in stories, never ever in reality by taking a serious feasibility study. The most challenge part of the project is how to introduce water across-over the Yellow River. The design is to dig tunnels with pumping stations to raise the water level.

9 Geography of China, and the Location of the Three Gorges Dam
In view of geography and landscape, China is in three tiers, east plain area with low elevation, middle elevation between metres, and high elevation of Tibet-Qinghai Plateau above 3000 metres. Three Gorges Hydro-dam is located at the end of the second tier to the plain area.

10 5 km Three Gorges Dam Gezhouba Dam
A satellite image of the Three Gorges, we found there is another hydraulic engineering construction about 40 km on the downstream side, which is called Gezhouba dam. Gezhouba was built in an attempt for the preparation of the Three Gorges. Its function is for balance of water elevation in particular in rain season to avoid sudden rise of water level. 5 km

11 Gezhouba Dam, completed in 1988, is 38 km east of the Three Gorges
Gezhouba Dam, completed in 1988, is 38 km east of the Three Gorges. It has two power stations with capacity of 3.11 GW, three ship locks, and 27 gates of the spillway. The dam is 2,595 metres (8,514 ft) long with a maximum height of 47 metres (154 ft). The reservoir has a total volume of 1.58 cubic kilometres. Gezhouba was constructed during the time of Culture Revolution, and completed in 1988 prior to the Three Gorges. Power generation is not the primary choice of the project. It is rather for the balance of water level and more convenience for navigation.

12 The Three Gorges Dam A view from top of the Three Gorges Dam, so far the world largest scale of hydraulic engineering project. The Three Gorges Dam consists of several parts having its function serving for different purposes. On the right side of the dam is the two-way of 5 ship locks allowing 10 k tons of ships passing through. Further inside is the water runway. Then is the main body of the dam with spill runways, silt discharge tunnels and power stations.

13 The Three Gorges Dam A stereo view of the Dam. Many people would think that the Three Gorges Dam was the idea created by what we called “New China” – since This was incorrect. The idea by having such a dam was proposed by the President Sun Yatsen, the founder of the Republic of China, in his book “Plans of Nation Reconstruction 建国方略” in However, the first real feasibility study was taken in 1944 by an American, at that time the chief engineer of US Bureau of Reclamation,

14 A large dam across the Yangtze River was originally envisioned by Sun Yat-sen, the founder of the Republic of China, in his book “Plans of Nation Reconstruction” in He stated that a dam capable of generating 30 million horsepower (22 GW) was possible downstream of the Three Gorges. John Lucian Savage (December 25, 1879 – December 28, 1967) was an American civil engineer. Among the 60 major dams he supervised the designs for the Hoover Dam, Shasta Dam, Parker Dam and Grand Coulee Dam in the United States along with surveying for the Three Gorges Dam in China. In 1944, John L. Savage surveyed the area and drew up a dam proposal for the 'Yangtze River Project'. Some exploration, survey, economic study, and design work was done in his team, but the Chinese government, in midst of war against Japan invasion and civil war, halted work in In Savage’s report, he recommended a dam construction with 200 meters height and the location very close to now the Dam site.

15 Canada Contribution to the Dam
CIDA provided $14.24 million dollars grant for feasibility study in 5 years from 1984 to 1988 QuebecHydro, BCHydro, SNC Lavalin, ACREC involved with 500 experts taking part in the feasibility research The final document containing 11 volumes, 51 appendix, over 3 million English words In conclusion that suggests 185m dam height, 160m water elevation, 760 MW single turbine unit, total power capacity 16.7GW, total construction period 18 years After the Culture Revolution, the Three Gorges Dam project has been put on table requiring for a comprehensive study on its feasibilities. China was at that time afraid of financial capability, because the whole project might cost up to 1/10 of total country’s annual GDP, far higher than we can burden. Therefore in the beginning, the Chinese government sought for international support with the aim in fundraising for the project from World Bank, Asia Development Bank and other foreign governmental loans. Canada was the only partner country chosen for the feasibility study with China.

16 Approval of the Dam In April 1992, the Fifth Plenary Session of the Seventh National People’s Congress (NPC) approved a resolution to construct the Three Gorges Dam, with 1,767 deputies voted in favour, 177 against and 664 abstained. The Three Gorges Project was adopted the way of river diversion by stages and three phases in construction. The total construction period is 17 years and complete in 2009. However, the Three Gorges Dam, when the idea put on table, has been controversial all the time. Even in the time when National People’s Congress finally passed the resolution, it was confronted with strongest objection, all together 841 votes of against and abstention, only 30 votes marginal for a two third majority, as required by the National People’s Congress with the rules for taking a major decision. 16

17 Phase I ( ) It was re-open of the blockade in 1998 because of the severe flood.

18 Inception of Construction
Sandouping, the place finally selected for the site of dam construction.

19 Infrastructure of an Artificial Island
An artificial island was created.

20 Phase II ( ) On 3 August, 1999, the construction of the dam blocked the water. The goal in the second phase ( ) is to realize the initial reservoir stage, power production by the first group of units in the left power plant, and navigation in ship locks. 20

21 Construction in 2006

22 Cross-Section of the Dam
There are all together 22 tunnels for silt discharge. Cross section of power plant Cross section of overflow dam

23 Phase III ( ) The goal in the third phase ( ) is to realize all units to be put in operation and completion of all construction work. 23

24 The dam deep stretches into the bank of river for protection.

25 Information of the Dam Official name: China Three Gorges Corporation
Location: Sandouping, Hubei province Status: Operational Construction: Began December 14, 1994 Opening date: 2008 Construction cost: ¥180 billion (US$26 billion) Dam and spillways Type of dam: Gravity dam Height: 180 m (592 ft) Length: 2,335 m (7,661 ft) Crest width: 40 m (131 ft) Base width: 115 m (377 ft) Impounds: Yangtze River Spillway capacity: 116, m3/s (4,100,000 cu ft/s)

26 Information of the Dam Reservoir: Three Gorges Reservoir
Capacity: 39.3 km3 Catchment area: 1,000,000 km2 (390,000 sq mi) Surface area: 1,045 km2 (403 sq mi) Normal elevation: 175 m (574 ft) Reservoir length: 600 km (370 mi) Max. reservoir width: 1.1 km (0.68 mi) avg. Power Station Commission Date: 2008–11 Type: Conventional Hydraulic head: Rated: 80.6 m (264 ft); Maximum: 113 m (371 ft) Turbines: 32 × 700 MW × 50 MW Installed capacity: 20.3 GW Maximum capacity: 22.4 GW Annual generation: 80 TWh (290 PJ) Net generation: 368 TWh (1,320 PJ) (2009)

27 Overflow in the middle, two sides there are 26 power turbines, and other 6 turbines on the left-hand side hidden in the mountains. Silt discharge tunnels are under the water.

28 Benefits of the Dam The primary goal of the Three Gorges Dam construction is flood control. Along with completion of the project, it is able to impound flood from upper Yangtze River, which makes flood control standard of Jingjiang River downstream enhance from 10-year to 100-year period. Regardless of controversy of the construction, the Three Gorges Project has met its comprehensive functions in three needs: flood control, power generation, convenience for navigation.

29 Jingjiang Dyke, over 180 km long between the cities of Jingzhou and Wuhan, is the most vulnerable part of the Yangtze River. In the history record, from 1560 to 1949, dyke burst over 36 times causing millions of people died. In 1998, dyke break threat causing 500 K people evacuation. Jingjiang Dyke In the 20th Century, there were three times of severe floods that caused the burst of river dykes killing 130 k, 30 k, and 3000 lives in 1931, 1954, 1991 respectively, This has helped the Chinese government make the decision to solve the problem once for all. Ever since 1998, Jingjiang Dyke is safe and no longer threat from burst because of the Three Gorges Dam.

30 The area in blue shade was flooded in the year of 1954, causing death of 30 thousand lives. The pictures were taken in The dyke was finally in safe with participation of 100 thousand soldiers and one million of local people. In the end, we still had a few thousand people lost their lives during this anti-flood battle.

31 Benefits of the Dam The Three Gorges Project has power generation of 32 hydro-units with a single unit capacity of 700 MW. The total installed capacity of 22,400 MW, and annual power production of TWh. Its renewable power takes 5% total country’s power (including Gezhouba), saving 60 million tons of raw coal thermal plants each year. The second goal of the project is to generate powers.

32 Left on top is the single unit of hydraulic turbine.

33 Power Transmission 6814 km long power transmission with 500kV capacity has been completed (6519 km by A.C. line and 295 km by D.C. line). The total capacity of A.C. line 22.75×106 kVA, and the capacity of D.C. transmission station 18×106 kW. Power from Three Gorges Dam sending out by 15 loops and 500 kV transmission line radiating to ten provinces.


35 Benefits of the Dam Navigation construction composes double-line five-steps ship lock and a vertical ship lift. Annual one-way transportation capacity is of 500 million tons. The completed project improves 660 km long navigation passing from Yichang city to Chongqing city, the ten-thousand-ton-rank fleet can directly arrive at Chongqing.

36 5 ship locks allowing 3000 tons passengers and cargo ships

37 For the benefit of transportation, 10 thousand tons ships and cargo fleet can reach Chongqing from Wuhan and Shanghai. The shipment cost reduces by 35%.

38 Boat trackers along Yangtze River
In early days of Yangtze River, boat trackers were one of the most impressive phenomenon in facilitation of powerless boats upward against rush currents. Years of hard labour, bank rocks were cut by rope force of trackers.

39 Chongqing, a province equivalent city created
A new provincial city was borne in 1997, in a result primarily of the Three Gorges Dam for re-settlement of farmers. The city is known in the world for the scandal of Bo Xilai, the Party Secretary and member of polio-bureau. Population: 31 million Size: 82.4 K km2

40 Negative effects of the Three Gorges Dam construction
Resettlement One of the most visible effects of the Three Gorges Dam building consists in a large-scale of human habitat loss due to inundation of more than 600 km2 of land. Resettlement Museum

41 After the Three Gorges Dam reservoir filling in 2009, 12 major cities including 2 prefectures, 10 counties, 140 towns, 326 townships, and more than 1,500 villages are partially or completely flooded. The total figure of population living in the area to be inundated was estimated of 846,200, which, considering the natural population growth, could reach nearly 1.2 million in 2009.

42 The heaviest resettlement load corresponds to Chongqing Municipality, with more than 85% of the relocatees. The main policy is to resettle the farmers as much people as possible in the vicinity of their former homes, mainly to the upper hills. Relocation of 125,000 peasants outside the reservoir region, downstream the Yangtze River and on coastal areas. In addition, about 40% of the rural migrants are transferred from agriculture sector to secondary and tertiary industries.

43 Negative effects of the Dam
Blocking a river would involve a series of physical and geological consequences that will affect to air, soil and water. The Three Gorges Dam has caused a decline in the populations of three endemic ancient fish species, Chinese sturgeon, Yangtze sturgeon and Chinese paddlefish.

44 Negative effects of the Dam
The Three Gorges Dam building will not only affect terrestrial and aquatic biodiversity and ecosystems in the reservoir area but also potentially affect those located downstream. the decrease and loss of floodplains and riparian wetlands the regression of river deltas and ocean estuaries the elimination of beaches and backwaters and it would also accelerate the intrusion of salt water into the estuary region

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