Three Gorges Dam Project



In 1992, the decision was made to build a dam at a site selected some sixty years earlier.  But until the 1990s, there were neither the funds nor the resolve to begin such a massive project.  Construction did began in 1994 and today it is still the largest water conservation project that has ever been undertaken in the world.  The four primary objectives for this project are flood control, power generation, irrigation and navigation.  The dam is 2335 meters long or about one and one-half miles and will raise the river to a level 175 meters or almost 660 feet above sea level.   

The reservoir resulting from the flooding behind the dam will extend up river to Chongqing, will affect 570,000 acres of farmland, 13 cities, 140 towns, 1,352 villages and 657 factories in 19 counties and cities, which will be flooded causing 1.5 million people to be relocated.   The construction budget for the dam is projected to cost about 28 billion US dollars when completed.  The final section of the river was closed the week of our trip and the morning of our visit to the dam there a was the formal ceremony for completing the final section.   

With coffer dams already in place the final section of the dam will be completed in 2003 when the first generators will begin to produce power.  The final construction will be completed in 2009 when the Yangtze River reservoir is fully flooded.  The dam, when completed will provide 15% of the country’s electrical power, enabling some coal generation plants to close, thereby improving the air pollution problem.   

The air pollution was so poor during our visit to the dam site that it was not even possible to get a clear picture showing the complexity and enormity of the dam.  The dam has two complete sets of locks that will permit ship travel up and down the river across the dam site.   There will also be a container that will hold smaller boats in a tank which can be raised by an elevator up and down the dam.  It is an amazing site to behold, an engineering feat that has drawn together experts from fifteen different countries.