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Chinese Mega Floods Threaten to Burst Three Gorges Dam 'Time Bomb', Drowning Cities, Devastating Economy


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As China counts the US$7 billion costs of its most punishing flood season in more than three decades, the role played by the Three Gorges Dam, has come under fresh scrutiny. PHOTO: Merco Press

Anew wave of flooding emerged upstream in Yangtze River, China, on Saturday, and is now moving downstream — fast. It’s been raining for almost 50 days straight, often in deluges. There was three solid weeks of rain from Tibet now incoming.

Both Yellow and Yangtze rivers are experiencing extraordinary floods. So far, 44 million people have had to evacuate.

Massive floods are impacting cities. Rain forecast is brutal.

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Flooding below Three Gorges Dam, China.

Some regions will see nearly 3 inches (70 mm) of precipitation per hour, accompanied by thunderstorms and strong winds, a local weather center announced. The center advised local authorities to remain alert for possible flooding, landslides and mudslides.

Shanghai flooded

The water levels of 433 rivers in China have risen over the danger mark since early June, with 33 of them rising to historic highs.

Data on water levels behind the dam is kept under strict control but is believed to be normal at 145 meters with an 180-meter capacity. Instead of using Three Gorges Dam for flood control, the water must be released. Dam operators must always prioritize the integrity of the dam and prevent topping.    

The water behind the dam has risen dramatically in the last several days. The dam is expected to receive a new round of incoming water on the 21st, can the dam really hold?

China over the weekend warned of new floods and has now opened five more floodgates. This release will reach Wuhan on July 22. Wuhan city is only protected by a large embankment along the river, and a video shows that water was seeping through, and if it collapses, Wuhan residents will be submerged in 3 to 4 stories of floodwater. In the first video at 3:15 you can see an example of a river dyke elsewhere crumbling away. 

In addition to the 40 million people affected by the massive floods, potentially 400 million more would be impacted should Three Gorges Damn be breached. CCP messaged this week, calling it a “100-year dam in a 200-year flood.”

The overwhelming majority of Chinese (and therefore U.S.) pharmaceutical production is located on the Yangtze River just below the creaking dam.

Rumors of Chinese banks collapsing are all over social media in China. Worried customers have descended on several banks to withdraw their money. Police took people into custody, accusing them of spreading rumors. Half of China’s important agricultural provinces have been impacted by the biggest flooding in decades.

An expert says this is creating a dilemma for the poorly constructed Three Gorges Dam. It seems they have no choice but to allow downstream cities to flood- and just hope the rain subsides.

Note the warped appearance of the dam structure. The Three Gorge is a concrete gravity dam at elevation of 181 meters. The elevation of Wuhan is 37 meters.

Simulation of upstream and downstream effects: Upstream threats are land and mud slides. There are no flood control dams above 3GD. The overwhelming flooding upstream and the silt and debris that is flowing down the other tributaries to the Yangtze is problematic and discussed in the simulation.

As early as 1988, Professor Lu Qinkan, former deputy chief engineer at the Ministry of Water Resources and a flood control and sedimentation expert, who had refused to sign the feasibility report as a flood control expert, made his arguments crystal clear in a journal article.

Why is the flood control capacity of the Three Gorges Dam project being questioned again?

“There are three types of floods that have occurred since 1949 along the Yangtze River:

1) Big floods throughout the entire river, such as in 1954;

2) Floods that are serious only at the upper reaches, such as the floods in 1981; and

3) Floods that have occurred due to local storms only at the lower and middle reaches, such as the floods in 1991.

The Three Gorges Dam project can only control floods from the Chuanjiang River in the upper reaches, and cannot control the floods from many of the large tributaries in the lower and middle reaches such as the Xiang, Zishui, Yuanshui, Lishui, Han and Gan rivers. The second type of flood, represented by the 1981 flood, was very serious in the upper reaches. The peak discharge at Chongqing of 85,700 m3 per second diminished to 70,800 m3 per second by the time it reached Yichang further down river as a result of channel storage. The lower and middle reaches were not affected at all. Therefore, the Three Gorges project is hardly necessary for this type of flood. It is unnecessary to state the obvious, that the Three Gorges Dam project is useless for the third type of flood.”

Therefore, it is clear that the Three Gorges dam project cannot lower water levels in the city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province, nor can it reduce the severity of the floods in its surrounding areas. For floods that occur in both Jiangxi and Anhui provinces, downstream of Wuhan, the Three Gorges Dam project would be totally useless. So the dam’s flood-control capacity is limited.

Original broadcast documentary 11 years ago: “Is the Three Gorges Dam a Ticking Time Bomb?”

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I Pet Goat (2012)
Originally appeared at: Winter Watch