See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

China: Drought and the Three Gorges Dam

Since September this year, China’s Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower scheme, has began a plan to raise its reservoir to its ideal height of 175 metres. In October, there has been severe drought in the provinces of Hunan and Jiangxi provinces along the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River. On 25 October, the China three Gorges Corporation argued that there was no link between the drought and the Three Gorges project:

Zheng Shouren, Chief Engineer of the Yangtze River Water Resources Committee, said those blaming the drought in Hunan and Jiangxi solely on the Three Gorges project got a partial picture. “The drought in Hunan and Jiangxi was mainly caused by the lack of rainfall in the regions amid continuous high temperature since September,” said Zheng, who is also an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering.

On the same day, the discharge rate was increased to ease the drought downstream. On 28 October, CCTV reported that the discharge rate was further increased. The authority admitted that the target reservoir level of 175 metres would not be achieved this year, but insisted that the drought was not related to the Three Gorges project.

Three Gorges

Qian Gang (钱钢), a well-known Chinese journalist, has joined the debate. In a post to 1bao (壹报) on 2 November, he said:

旱灾通常由气候变化引致。今年夏秋,包括广东在内的诸多省份少雨干旱。但长江流域广大地区今次大旱情,却与三峡有关。据报道,三峡水库水位由9月15日的近148米上升到10月24日的170米,截留之水形成前所未有的巨大人工湖。

Drought is usually caused by climate change. A few provinces, including Guangdong, experienced drought during this summer and autumn. But the large area of drought around the Yangtze River is related to the Three Gorges project. According to reports, the Three Gorges reservoir level has increased from 148m on 15 September to 170m on 24 October. This has created an unprecedented, massive artificial lake.

而与此同时,湖南各条长江支流水位迅速下降,洞庭湖水位降至60年来同期最低值。渔民无鱼可捕,枯水影响航运,长沙等城市食水供应告急。江西境内的4条大河逼近或低于历史同期最低水位。鄱阳湖比正常年份提前40天进入枯水期。

At the same time, water level of a few tributaries in Hunan province has decreased rapidly. Dongting Lake has dropped to the lowest level in 60 years. Fishermen and river transport are severely affected. Cities like Changsha are facing water shortages. Water level of the four major rivers in Jiangxi province have dropped near historic lows.  Poyang Lake has entered dry season 40 days earlier than normal.

He went on to criticize the authority:

长江水利委员会的专家把华中干旱的原因归咎于天气,称三峡蓄水是为了抗旱,蓄至高水位,才能在来年苦水季给下游补水。

The Yangtze River Water Resources Committee puts the blame on weather. The committee says that the Three Gorges project serves anti-drought purposes in the coming year. Only by storing large amount of water can the aim of providing water in next year’s dry season be achieved.

这是对公众极不负责的态度,好比一个人先劫掠,再施舍,然后以扶困救难的善士自居。请不要再欺骗老百姓,请解释:明知夏秋之际中国中部、南部少雨干旱,为什么还启动风险如此巨大的三峡蓄水计划?

This is an irresponsible behaviour. This is like robbing a person first, then helping him to show your charitable cause. Please don’t lie to the citizens anymore. Please explain: knowing that the summer-autumn period would be a dry season for central China, why still proceed with the high-risk plan?

为什么在今秋急急上马175米高程蓄水?有关部门宣称“将兼顾上、下游需求,正确处理防洪、发电、航运和供水之间的关系”,但一个月来长江中下游航运淤滞、供水告急的事实,证明这完全是一句假话。能源部门这个央企巨无霸,真正追求的东西只有一个——钱。

Why the hast decision to implement the 175m water storage scheme? The authority claimed it will “manage the relationship between flood protection, electricity generation, river traffic and water supply. But the traffic congestion and drought of the past month has disproved this claim. The related energy department, a giant state-owned firm, is only pursuing one thing: money.

This seems to echo with a commentary on Hong Kong’s Apple Daily:

區內雨量大幅減少確實是洞庭、鄱陽兩湖乾涸的主要原因。但兩湖水位急降,跟三峽工程也有關係。三峽水庫九月中啟動一百七十五米蓄水計劃後,長江中下游開始水位急降,本來儲存長江來水的洞庭及鄱陽,倒過來向長江輸水。

The reduction in rain is indeed an important cause for the dramatic drop in water level of the lakes of Dongting and Poyang. But it is also related to the Three Gorges project. Since the start of the water storage scheme in September, the water level of downstream Yangtze has dropped rapidly. Dongting and Poyang, originally acting as storage of incoming water, become a water supply for Yangtze.

巨大的三峽水庫本可調節長江水量:雨季時截住洪水…枯水時增加排水量…可惜,這幅理想圖像與現實的利益存在衝突,很難實現,因為三峽工程已成為利益集團的禁臠和生財工具。

The gigantic Three Gorges project could be used to regulate water flow: stopping water during wet season and supplying water at times of drought… Unfortunately, this ideal picture cannot be realized, because the project has become a paraphernalia for interested parties.

[Picture taken from www.1bao.org]

3 comments

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

No thanks, show me the site