U.S. Water News Online
BEIJING -- China unleashed the Yangtze River upon the
world's largest hydroelectric dam by blowing up the temporary
structure used during construction, state media reported.
The 1.4-mile-long Three Gorges Dam now holds back the full force
of the river and assumes its role in controlling the deadly floods
that have regularly ravaged China's farming heartland.
The dam was completed last month but its power-generation
facilities are not slated to be finished until 2008. It is designed
to eventually produce 22.4 million kilowatts of electricity -- enough
to light up Shanghai on a peak day with power to spare.
The water level of the Three Gorges Reservoir will rise from the
current height of 440 feet to 510 feet after the summer flood season
is over, the official Xinhua news agency said. At its full height,
waters will to rise to 575 feet, although experts claim no one really
knows how high they will increase because of silting and the area's
More than 1.13 million people have been relocated to make way for
the dam and its reservoir, and officials are keen to show they are
sensitive to the dam's massive environmental impact.
Before they demolished the temporary structure, officials zapped
the water with electric pulses to drive the fish away, Xinhua
reported. Ultrasonic monitoring showed 90 percent of the fish fled,
it said, citing Professor Tan Xichang from the Water Biological
Some 191 tons of dynamite were laid inside the temporary dam,
which was 1,900 feet long and 460 feet high, according to Xinhua.
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