Workers with the Three Gorges Project will face three major new tasks after the diversion channel, built for the passage of ships during the second-phase of construction, is fully dammed on November 6.
Lu Youmei, general manager of the China Yangtze River Three Gorges Project Development Corporation, said, "A new construction peak will start when the natural flow of the mighty Yangtze is stopped near the dam site, and the project will begin to play part of its role."
Workers will then be required to build over the next eight months the final 665-meter-long section of the 2,309-meter-long and 185-meter-high dam, workshops for 12 generators on the southern bank of the Yangtze, and the vertical ship lift on the northern bank.
By June next year, the Three Gorges Dam will begin to store water to a level of 135 meters and the first four generators will start power operation.
A total of 5.5 billion kw hours of electricity will be generated in 2003 alone. Power will be transmitted to the provinces of Hubei, Henan, Hunan, Jiangxi, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Anhui, Guangdong and to Shanghai Municipality.
The first two phases of the project were concentrated chiefly along the northern bank. The mainstream of the Yangtze, China's longest river, was first dammed in November 1997.
The Three Gorges Project has been designed to harness the Yangtze in the aspects of flood control, power generation and navigation.
Construction began in 1993 and is expected to be completed in 2009, when 26 power-generating units with a combined capacity of 18.2 million kilowatts will go into operation. The permanent locks will also be able to accommodate ships of more than 10,000 DWT (deadweight tonnage).
The entire project is estimated to cost 180 billion yuan (US$21.7 billion ).
(People’s Daily November 5, 2002)