Three Gorges Probe

Three Gorges farmers should shun fertilizer, US scientists say

(October 29, 2008) Farmers should cut back on fertilizers during a flood season that can last as long as six months to help mitigate ecological damage in China’s Three Gorges Dam region, according to US scientists quoted by Bloomberg.

Scientists from Ohio State University say if farmers in the flooded zone that extends 660 kilometres behind the dam, an area longer than Lake Superior, don’t shun fertilizers, the water will turn polluted from excess nutrients and cause algae blooms in standing water covering fields along the Yangtze River. Since construction began on the dam in 1994 and power generation started in 2003, the project has been fraught with critics’ warnings of an environmental nightmare that could include reservoir waters teeming with factory toxins and raw sewage.

William Mitsch, an Ohio State University wetlands expert and natural resources professor. proposed altering farming methods and fishing practices to prevent further environmental damage to the region in an Oct. 24 letter co-written with four colleagues from Ohio State and China to the journal Science, which published an Aug. 1 report detailing the dam’s environmental dangers. The reservoir floods a 632 square kilometres area, half that of Itaipu Dam on the Brazil-Paraguay border. When fully operational, Three Gorges is expected to provide 22,500 megawatts of power generation capacity, about 3 percent of the nation’s total.

Randall Hackley and Gareth Gore, Bloomberg, October 29, 2008

Categories: Three Gorges Probe

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