The 3 gorges dam, the largest dam ever created, is a controversial subject for many. It took 50 years to plan , 15 years to build and cost the Chinese about 24 billion dollars. The dam creates a reservoir that stretches back along the Yangtze, almost the length of England, about 600km upstream, and has a maximum height of 175m . It is a concrete gravity dam: a dam made of concrete with a wider footing than top section, which retains freshwater.
The idea of building a dam on the Yangtze has been around for a while. Sun Yat Sen, the first president of China published in 1919, “A plan to develop industry”, mentioning the possibility of building a series of dams along the Yangtze. Mao wrote a poem in 1956, describing his vision of a Dam in the Yangtze.
Hundreds of millions of people live on the Yangtze basin, and the area is very prone to flooding. 200+ floods have occurred between 185BC to 1911, roughly one every 10 years. The water level of the river is higher than that of the basin, due to the fact that the Yangtze has lots of silt, which deposits in the river, raising the water levels. Floods from the Yangtze have killed millions and cost billions of pounds in damages to the environment and infrastructure.
The 3-gorges dam was devised as the definitive solution to the Yangtze flooding problems. Before each flood season, the dam releases its reservoirs, letting out 22B cubic metres of flood control capacity, which prevents the possibility of floods. This alone would save millions of pounds of economic damage The 3-gorges dam also provides energy for a growing China, generating 92TWh of renewable, carbon friendly, energy for 9 provinces and 2 major cities, including Shanghai, which has a population of around 24 million people Arguments against the construction of 3-gorges dam have been existed even before its construction. They include the fact that the dam was not ideally placed to counteract floods which generally happen further downstream. The Yangtze is also the 4th most silt heavy river in the word. Large amounts of silt may deposit at the bottom of the reservoir, leading to rising water levels, and may cause the water to spill over without constant maintenance.
The dam had caused millions of people to be relocated, and destroyed 1000s of villages towns, as well as 2 cities. This would have led to an array of social and environmental problems. For example, by flooding the thousands of factories, mines and rubbish dump, the river became even more toxic and polluted than it already was. The government pledged wastewater plants, which came 10 years after the dam was built.
Around 1300 cultural heritage sites were affected by the dam, of which , only 400 were addressed by the government. Sites such the Zhang Fei temple were relocated, and Baihelang stone was conserved, but most of the heritage was simply photographed before the area was flooded.
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