(November 7, 2010) Water has risen to its maximum level at China’s Three Gorges Dam, driving electricity output to full capacity at the world’s largest hydropower plant for the first time.
The achievement marks the culmination of what likely is the largest public-works project in history, a $23-billion behemoth on China’s longest river, the Yangtze.
The government has touted the dam as the best way to end centuries of deadly floods and to provide energy to fuel the country’s economic boom.
But the project is controversial inside and outside China. It has left villages and ancient artifacts inundated and displaced more than 1.4 million people.
Worse, some geologists warn that rising water levels in the vast reservoir heightens the risk of landslides, earthquakes and damage to the river’s ecology.
Last year, the Chinese investigative magazine Caijing revealed a government report that warned that rising water levels were increasing landslide risks by reviving old landslide fissures as soil around the dam became saturated.
The report cited a preflood inspection report that identified nearly 700 areas vulnerable to geological damage, 587 of them possible landslide spots.
Construction of the 410-mile-long reservoir began in 1993 and was finished in 2006. Its maximum water level is 574 feet, and it is expected to generate 84.7 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity.
Associated Press, November 7, 2010