China halts shipping through Yangtze dam as water level rises

 

AUTHORITIES HAVE stopped shipping through China’s massive Three Gorges Dam on the upper reaches of the country’s longest river, the Yangtze, because the dam was due to experience another flood peak yesterday.

Water levels at the world’s largest hydroelectric project have been at high levels for weeks from record rains in its upper reaches, causing some of the worst flooding for decades.

The same heavy rains have also lashed other parts of the country, triggering landslides and flooding, and causing hundreds of deaths and billions of euros in damage.

The water levels are being closely watched on the dam, which is 2.3km long, has a five-tier ship lock system and 26 hydropower generators.

In addition to power generation, shipping and water supply, a key function of the project is to end centuries of flooding on the Yangtze.

The €18 billion dam, the construction of which involved the flooding of 116 towns and hundreds of ancient historical sites and led to 1.4 million people being relocated, is one of the engineering marvels of the world.

However the recent bout of heavy rain, flooding and landslides has drawn attention to the dam and its ability to withstand the freakishly bad weather.

Authorities said the dam took the edge off the deluge by holding back about 31,000 cubic metres of floodwater a second and discharging the rest.

The headquarters of the State Flood Control and Drought Relief said that by Monday evening, the water level in the dam was at 152m, 7m above the flood alarm level but still below a peak of 158m reached earlier this summer. The reservoir’s maximum capacity is 175m.

At one point yesterday, water flow into the reservoir of the dam reached 56,000 cubic metres a second, the highest since the flood peak of 70,000 cubic metres a second reported on July 20th.

Ship locks were closed after water flow into the reservoir exceeded 45,000 cubic metres a second.