China's Dams

Dammed if they do

(June 15, 2011)  Low water levels in Poyang Lake, due to the Three Gorges reservoir withholding vital water supplies, encourage the Jiangxi government to consider building yet another dam to mitigate water shortages.

Excerpts from an article by Lian Chen

Global Times

The China Three Gorges Corporation is intent on storing water (from the Yangtze River) behind the giant Three Gorges dam to produce much needed electricity, while communities downstream have been demanding the company discharge more water for much needed irrigation, human use and fishing. The recent drought has highlighted the vulnerability of the region.

The Jiangxi Provincial government is proposing to build a dam that would be designed to compensate for the flow of water that experts say has been diminished by the Three Gorges Dam. This spring’s extended drought caused the Poyang Lake (China’s largest freshwater lake)  to drain much more dramatically than in recent past years.

On June 8, the Oriental Morning Post reported that the Jiangxi government plans to offset the lessened water flow from the Yangtze by building a 2,800-meter long dam so it can control and stabilize the lake’s water level.

Provincial officials believe a dam between the Poyang and the Yangtze River would restore the lake’s water level to pre-Three Gorges levels, but many experts say such a structure will only compound the entire watershed’s environmental problems.

“Obviously, the Three Gorges Dam has had a negative effect on the ecology, but it’s unwise to build an almost identical dam,” Liu Shukun, a professor from the China Institute of Water Resources and Hydropower Research, told the Global Times.

Indeed many experts are concerned that yet another dam will only compound the negative effects on human manipulation of Poyang’s ecology.

Statistics show that over the past five decades more than 46,000 dam structures and 7,000 navigation locks have been built along the Yangtze River and its tributaries.

Lian Chen, Global Times, June 15, 2011

Read the complete article here.

1 reply »

  1. Up the YangtzeUp the Yangtze is a documentary that looks into morden China, and the changes that are occurring to the Yangtze river and the displacement occurring due to the building of the Three Gorges Dam. There are several themes throughout the movie that parallel the topics discussed earlier in the class. In line with the methods used by Haussmann in Paris and Moses in New York the poor populations were displaced in order to make way for progress and morden development. This displacement was carried out in a manner similar to those discussed by Davis typical of third world countries. Those who refused to move were beaten, or their homes destroyed. However, the most interesting aspect of the film in terms of the displacement created by the Three Gorges Dam was the way in which the residents who were interviewed described the process. There was a complete acknowledgement that they had not way to prevent the displacement and the project going forward, and resistance to displacement was futile. One of the interviewees described morden China as “too hard for common people” (Up the Yangtze), as the common people being displaced had no means of effective resistance against a decision coming from above. I found this pragmatic acknowledgement of the situation by the average population of China to be a very important element of the film and of the situation in morden China. Another key element distinguishing this displacement portrayed in the film from those previously discussed in the class are the manners in which the government has tried to portray the displacement to the international community. Through taking tourists to the villages that have been built to house those displaced there are efforts to show how the government is taking care of those displaced – providing new housing with morden amenities such as fridges, TVs and air conditioners. Through the pragmatic acknowledgement by residents of the situation facing them, as well as the government’s attempts to show a positive face of displacement to the international community the film showed how the situation in morden China is different from the processes of displacement due to megaprojects for mordenization seen elsewhere.

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