Section and revolutionary first proposed that a Three

Section 1: Goal, Scope and Rationale


The concept of constructing a dam on the Three Gorges
to make use of the power of the river Yangtze is a dream that is centauries old.

In the early 90’s, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, a Chinese physician and revolutionary first
proposed that a Three Gorges Dam Project to be constructed. Various experts
conducted investigations and started working on the project but because of
historic reasons and lack of resources and technology the development of the
project remained only a dream. After almost ten hearings on the expediency of
the project the Government of China concluded that the merits of the project
far overweigh its demerits and approved the project in 1992.

The government had three main goals for this project,
flood control, power generation and navigation. Previously the population surrounding
the lower and middle and lower regions of the Yangtze suffered immense losses
from flooding affecting both human lives and property. In 1931 alone almost
three hundred thousand hectares of cultivated land were lost and about 145
thousand people were drowned. Therefore the construction of a dam was necessary
to propel China into the 21st century and without it, China will have
difficulty in providing energy to its immense population and moreover the
energy obtained from the dam is more environmentally friendly than other alternative
sources present at that period.


Section 2: Strategy Alignment


The Yangtze River in China, the third largest river
in the world, has long awed painters, writers, and poets. For centuries it drew
people to its banks for trade, transport, and spiritual purposes, as evidenced
by archaeological studies. The dam is designed to have a flood control capacity
of approximately 22 billion cubic meters and its construction would recede the number
and impacts of floods in that surrounding area. Due to the size and capacity of
this dam, engineers were over that it might flood the nearby habitats so
therefore relocation process for the people living there were already planned,
thought to give them new jobs and a place to live. It was estimated that the
turbines would generate about 85TWh of green energy, which would result in
the decrease of country’s dependency on coal and other fossil fuels. The construction
of the reservoir and ship locks would benefit the navigation across the river
and would allow large vessels to travel up and down the stream. New sea routes
will be made and ships from Chongquing will soon be able to trade goods all with
Shanghai. As it will be the the largest hydroelectric dam in the world, it is
expected to be popular among tourists visiting China, therefore new business
ideas like river cruises and sightseeing were drafted to boost the economy and
profits for the operation of the dam. The workers on the construction site of
the dam were in favour as it means that they have employment for up to 20
years. The local area reserves constructed will also protect the endangered
animals such as the white alligator and the Chinese river dolphin. The planned
34 generators will be able to generate and sell enough power that it will
eventually pay for itself and start making profits.


Section 3: Management of Risk

A project this size is surely bound to be rocked by
problems and risks. The construction of the reservoir constructed submerged 1,350
villages, 140 towns and 13 cities. The engineers were aware of this and
therefore started the relocation process as soon as the project was given a go
ahead. All the factories, waste dumps, mines and homes will dump all their waste
in the river along with their contents, which includes toxic chemicals. On top
of that there was sewage of approximately 1.35 billion tons already being
dumped in the river each year. All of this waste will likely end up in the reservoir,
which was supposed to be a major source of drinking water for
the surrounding region. The region around the dam has Jiuwanxi and Zigui-Badong
the two major fault lines in China. The swift changes in water pressure due to
reservoir being filled got the geologist worried that during flood it could trigger
a phenomenon known as reservoir-induced seismicity the shakes the unsteady
ground and causes an earthquake. The land around the reservoir could also be
destabilised and cause landslides due to the lowering and raising of the water
level. The engineers designed the dam to be earthquake resistant by using
special techniques and materials and you can see that result as the Dam
survived nearly 980 tremors in its first few years of operation. The Chinese
government also took steps to keep a check on the existing structure of the dam
and spent millions of dollars to make it safer. It also spent a staggering 1.6
billion dollars on reinforcing the reservoir coasts to prevent landslides and
another 3.2 billion dollars on water treatment projects to prevent water
pollution. They are also finding new spawning areas for threatened fish species
and also to transport the many ancient relics to a safer place before they
ended up being submerged in water.


Section 4: Conclusions: Evaluation of Project Success


The Three Gorges Dam was an ambiguous project and was
something that looked good on paper. The initial budget was set to be 8 billion
dollars but in reality it took almost 22 billion and some rumour it to take up to
80 billion dollar to complete the overall project. Around 1.2 million people
have been ordered by the government to evacuate the area and relocate before
construction. They were promised plots of land and small stipends but in many
cases they were only compensated as little as 50 yuan or $7 a month. The
reservoir created engulfed temples, ancient villages and burial grounds,
destroying thousands of year’s worth of irreplaceable history. It would also
inundate a 4,000-year-old homeland of the ancient Ba People and almost 1,300
important historical sites.

The dam has also been causing some serious
environmental concerns. There have been various landslides since the start of
the project. Even before the project was completed, the bank of the reservoir
had been collapsed in more than 90 places. In 2003, 700 million cubic feet
of rock slid into the Qinggan River, which created 20-meter tall waves that
killed 14 people. The weather in the area has been changing so significantly
that researchers at NASA “were surprised to see that the dam affected rainfall over such a large area —
a 62-square-mile region — rather than just 6 miles projected in previous
studies.” They also found that the neighbouring mountains were receiving higher
amount of rainfall while the area surrounding the dam received much lesser
rainfall than before. This resulted in a significant change of almost 1.2
degrees Fahrenheit in areas where rain fell increased due to the cloud form and
reduction in sunlight ultimately changing the vegetation and habitat of the
already present species living there.

In 2008 the Yangtze River hit its lowest water level
in 142 years. This abrupt drop stranded ships and caused water shortages in
various cities including Shanghai. This is ironic as the project, which was
designed to restrain flooding, is now causing draughts. After viewing all of my
information, I have come to a conclusion about my views on the three gorges dam
projects. Personally I believe that the dam should not be built. I believe this
because I think that they should build a scheme that will not affect people in
such a dramatic way. For example, they could get better flood control without
having to stop the rivers natural flow by protecting the cities and farmland
more. That will preserve the land and will also stop damage being caused. I do
agree with the fact that Hydro Electric Power will unequivocally help the
environment and that it is needed to help prevent the burning of fossil fuels
but I think the country could incorporate Hydro Electric Power into other parts
of the river other than the Three Gorges.