Category: Yangtze Drought and Pollution

Astonishing changes in the life and environment of Chongqing: 20 years after the construction of the Three Gorges Dam: Fan Xiao

Twenty years after the completion of China’s monumental Three Gorges Dam, a new study by Chinese geologist Fan Xiao finds the mega-project’s impacts on his hometown of Chongqing, some 600 kilometres upstream, have been dramatic. Lost in the dam’s grand scale are the harsh consequences borne by the region’s environment and economy; its after-effects are felt most intensely by the individuals and communities struggling to adapt in the immense shadow of China’s largest public works effort since the Great Wall.

Concern mounts in China over Yangtze diversion project

China’s ambitious South-to-North Water Diversion project officially begins flowing next month and the impacts of the costly geo-engineering giant are starting to be felt in the regions tapped to redistribute water to the country’s parched north. “This project from the beginning has been as controversial as the Three Gorges,” says Probe International fellow and leading Chinese environmental journalist, Dai Qing.

Beijing to tap water from thousands of kilometers away

While there is no doubt China’s industry-heavy northeast is parched, some critics say China’s geo-engineering South-North Water Diversion project is yet another example of China trying to engineer its way out of a problem that could be largely solved through better policies, such as a tiered pricing system for water and better monitoring. Stian Reklev for Reuters reports.

Ten years of the Three Gorges Dam: a call for policy overhaul

An urgent overhaul of Three Gorges’ Dam management policy to enforce relevant regulations is needed to save various endangered species, improve the environment, and encourage economic development, say the authors of this paper. Xiankun Yang and X X Lu of the National University of Singapore discuss what we’ve learned from this controversial megadam over the past decade.

China is so bad at conservation that it had to launch the most impressive water-pipeline project ever

(March 17, 2014) Reporter Lily Kuo takes an in-depth look at China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project — the world’s largest water diversion conceived originally by Mao Zedong as a way to relieve North China’s dwindling water resources by “borrowing” from the south of the country. But not even the project’s leaders are pretending the mammoth, ultra-complex, $80-billion scheme will solve China’s water problem. Moreover, it has already created extra problems. Kuo concludes the project is another example of an engineer-dominated government’s fondness for huge-scale vanity projects with a particular weakness for mega-water works. No wonder. Without the man-made institutions — a robust regulatory regime and the rule of law — the Chinese government is bereft of tools to induce the efficient use (and conservation) of water. And so it builds canals and moves water from one watershed to another, creating havoc and perpetuating the problem of China’s crippling water crisis.

China’s desperate need for water is forcing the relocation of hundreds of thousands of people

(March 17, 2014) Part two of Lily Kuo’s substantial overview of China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project (SNWDP) and its resettlement process. Kuo notes that since 1949, more than 45 million Chinese have been displaced by infrastructure projects and, of those, 12 million have been moved for water schemes. The water projects, she notes, have a particularly depressing record in terms of outcomes for the resettled. Although there are signs, she says, of villagers moved for the SNWDP receiving better care than those in the past, the same old resettlement problems abound. Worst of all, there are no farms to tend and jobs to do. “This isn’t a life,” says one migrant of the soul-destroying joblessness. “In the morning, you see everyone sleeps in. In the afternoon, they play cards. That’s it.”

China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project threatens flood of problems

(October 28, 2013) This excellent report by Agence France-Presse looks at the growing number of drawbacks posed by China’s South-to-North Water Diversion project and asks whether the $80-billion geo-engineering giant is creating more problems than it is supposed to solve. For example, the strong risk of collecting and distributing tainted water from the supply waterways it draws from, which would render the water carried unusable; the energy required to move water uphill for long sections; the displacement of entire communities in large numbers for reservoir construction, as well as the construction feats required to pull off certain aspects of the project’s plans – such as blasting channels through mountains in earthquake zones on the Tibetan plateau. Not to mention the threat posed by construction of this scale in seismically active zones.

Seeing in the Dark: How porpoises hear in one of the world’s busiest rivers

(October 21, 2013) Scientists are using medical technology to study the endangered Yangtze finless porpoise and their critical sense of hearing, used for navigation, to understand how these mammals are managing in the very busy and loud waters of China’s high-traffic Yangtze River. “In a noisy environment, they’d have a hard time hearing their prey or their friend. It makes it more difficult for them to conduct basic biological activities such as foraging, communicating, and navigating in the river,” said biologist and lead author of the survey, Aran Mooney.