Three Gorges Probe

Three Gorges reservoir battles garbage

September 22, 2006

Rising water levels in the Three Gorges reservoir will increase the amount of garbage floating around the dam, harming the environment and threatening river traffic, an official with the China Yangtze River Three Gorges Project Development Corporation said yesterday.

A severe drought that for months plagued the upper reaches of the Yangtze River reduced the waterway’s capacity to clean itself and left a large quantity of garbage on its banks, said Cao Guangjing, vice manager of the Three Gorges corporation.

The reservoir will experience a sharp increase in floating garbage as the water in the reservoir is being raised 21 meters from 135 to 156 meters, an action that began on Wednesday evening, Cao said.

"The increase is going to make cleanup work much more difficult," Cao said.

Cao said the amount of floating garbage in the reservoir is expected to surpass 200,000 cubic meters.

The company has decided to use a special boat to mop up the floating trash, but the vessel hasn’t been put into operation due to a lack of spare parts, he said.

The boat is the largest of its kind in the world, having the capacity to handle 300 cubic meters of garbage, Cao said.

When the water level reaches 156 meters, the Three Gorges Project will increase power production by 7.85 billion kilowatt-hours annually.

As of April, 126 billion yuan (US$15.75 billion) had been spent on construction of the Three Gorges Project. A total 130 billion kwh of electricity has been generated since July 2003, earning 25 billion yuan.

Under the current operation, water storage will rise 11 billion cubic meters, improving shipping conditions upstream. The reservoir currently holds 14 billion cubic meters.

The water level will increase from the current 135 meters to 148 meters by October 1 and to 156 meters by mid-October.

As the operation began, local governments in the dam area began a cleanup campaign armed with a budget of 4.6 million yuan.

Six-hundred workers using 208 boats and 58 motor vehicles have been mobilized to clear the affected areas and the Yangtze’s 20 dried-up lesser tributaries of tree branches, solid waste and farm debris, said Tang Jiali, deputy director of the Chongqing Municipal Environmental Hygiene Bureau.

"If this rubbish is not cleared, it will be washed into the reservoir, polluting the environment and endangering shipping," Tang said. Xinhua

Categories: Three Gorges Probe

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