Wu Jiao, China Daily
March 9, 2007
The environment in the Three Gorges Dam area has been stable since the water level reached 156 meters fours month ago, a chief project planner said.
“Thanks to efforts to curb water pollution, soil erosion and geological disasters, the water quality in the gorges has maintained its drinking standard since the Three Gorges Dam began storing water in 2003,” said Wang Xiaofeng, deputy director of the Three Gorges Project Construction Committee.
The government has plans to spend nearly 40 billion yuan ($5 billion) between 2001 and 2010 to build at least 150 sewage treatment plants and 170 urban garbage disposal centers to prevent water pollution in the Three Gorges Dam and the upper reaches of the Yangtze River.
Wang also said only half of the expected sediment in the dam area had been observed thanks to efforts prevent landslides, the construction of other dams on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River and tree-planting campaigns in the vicinity of the dam.
The official also ruled out the possibility of major earthquakes in the Three Gorges Dam area, saying that the displacement and water percolation level in the area observed so far was “within the normal sphere”.
Wang rejected claims that the hydropower project had affected the local climate, contributing to a drought in Chongqing.
“The drought is the result of trans-regional or even global climate change. A single water reserve will not provoke such a drought,” said the deputy director.
Instead, Wang said the Three Gorges water control project had “fine-tuned” the local climate by adding humidity to the region.
He also said it could take decades to fully understand how the project would affect the environment, especially when the water level reaches 175 meters in 2009, from the current 156 meters.
The country has built a surveillance network to monitor water quality, tremors and climate change in the Three Gorges Dam.