June 15, 2007
The Three Gorges Project is not yet ready to provide flood protection for every community downstream of the giant dam, says a Chinese expert who warned that major flooding could occur this summer.
Cai Qihua, a director of the Yangtze River Flood Control Headquarters, said meteorological conditions are similar to those in 1998 when flooding along the river caused the deaths of 1,526 people.
Cai warned provinces and municipalities along the middle and lower reaches the Yangtze there is the potential serious flooding this summer.
People “must be clear-headed about the floods prevention capabilities of the Three Gorges Reservoir which should not be overestimated,” said Cai.
The water level of the reservoir can be allowed to rise from 144 meters to 156 meters, which would prevent 6.8 billion cubic meters of water from flooding downstream.
Holding back such a volume of water could minimize flooding from Zhicheng City in Hubei Province to Chenglingji in Hunan Province, which is considered at greatest risk as the river twists and turns through the area, said Cai.
Cai stressed the Three Gorges project has not been fully completed. When it is finished the water level behind the dam can be raised to 175 meters.
Cai stressed the Three Gorges project would play a basic role in flood prevention and control this year. If widespread flooding occurs in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River other dykes and flood diversion programs in those areas will need to play a role.
The Three Gorges Project, believed to be the world’s largest water control facility, is scheduled to come into full operation in 2008.