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Q&A on Flood Control for the Three Gorges Project

By Jieyu Wang, Kailong Tan, Xiaotong ZhangICHONGQING|Jul 22,2020

Since China entered the flood season in early June, many places such as Jiangxi, Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, and Chongqing have suffered from floods. As before, when floods occurred, the Three Gorges Project on the Yangtze River, the largest water conservancy project in China, has once again arrested attention from home and abroad. Recently, a responsible person at the River Basin Hub Management Center of China Three Gorges Corporation was interviewed about the many hot-spot issues.

Three Gorges Dam

Q: Many opinions prevail online on the flood control capacity of the Three Gorges Dam. Some claimed it could withstand a millennium flood. So how about its flood control capacity exactly?

A: The Three Gorges Project functions mainly for the Jingjiang River section, which does not need flood diversion when a once-in-a-century flood occurs. When a more significant flood occurs, even that once-in-a-millennium and that like in 1870, the flow past Zhicheng will not exceed 68,000 cubic meters per second. Therefore, also with flood diversion and water storage, devastating disasters in the Jingjiang area can be prevented.

Q: Some overseas media hype up the dangers of the Three Gorges Dam every year, such as its deformation and the risk of a dam break. What about its actual situation? Is there any looming deformation or other risks?

A: Now, the Three Gorges Dam is running safely. There is no deformation or other risks in recent years, and the Three Gorges Project is not as fragile or vulnerable as some belief.

Safety monitoring has been carried out as a central component of the Three Gorges Project for us to grasp the operation status of the Three Gorges Dam in real time and accurately. Relevant instruments have been planted since 1994. As of the end of June 2020, more than 12,000 instruments have been installed in and around the Three Gorges Dam. They are all over the permanent buildings, foundations, and slopes of the Three Gorges Project, monitoring deformation, seepage and seepage pressure, stress and strain, strong earthquakes, hydraulics, and dynamics. Besides the advanced technology and equipment for monitoring, manual inspections are also carried out. “Deformation” and “risk of dam break” are rumors and alarmist talks. Any speculation without scientific supervision and meticulous data are unprofessional, irresponsible, and even ill-intentioned.

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