Questions linger about the effect on major lakes downstream
JIUJIANG, Jiangxi - Guo Peiru, 62, who lives in a village near the city of Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, compared the Three Gorges Dam to "a water faucet" that could be turned on and off to adjust to the flood situation and keep conditions stable.
Guo lives near the Yangtze River and has experienced several floods, including the monster in 1998 that killed 1,432 people up and down its length: "The water was so big, and it made an awful sound."
Guo recalled that he had to live on the dike for more than 60 days. The destroyed dam of 1998 is a painful memory for all the people of Jiujiang.
Now, 12 years later, floods still can be menacing, but Guo feels that his life has not been affected by them too much. He and his family depend on planted crops for their living. The farmland was not under water this year because the Three Gorges Dam has played a vital role in easing the Yangtze flood threat this summer.
In spite of whatever praise the local people may have for the dam project, local officials have spotted some questionable things about it.
Deng Xizhu, head of the Jiujiang flood control office, said the dam will hold the flood peak down and relieve pressure in the middle and lower reaches of the river, but it has affected other things, for example, the natural pattern of flow of the flood. As a result, the lower reaches will have high water levels for a longer period.
"That, in turn, will pose a big problem for flood control in Poyang Lake and other lakes around Jiujiang."
Elsewhere, the benefits of the dam are obvious: in Jingzhou, for example, a key flood control city along the Yangtze River, which has a tributary, the Jingjiang, flowing through it. As Cao Guangjing, chairman of China Three Gorges Corporation, explained: "The dam has a flood-control capacity of 22.1 billion cubic meters and that is equal to the flow of four Jingjiang flood diversion zones."
(China Daily 10/27/2010 page3)