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Three Gorges Water Storage Complete
The water level of the Three Gorges Reservoir reached the predetermined 135 meters at 10:00 pm (Beijing Time) Tuesday, five days ahead of schedule.

The reservoir of the Three Gorges Project, the largest water control project in the world, has stored 10 billion cubic meters of water since the sluice gates were closed on June 1.

With the growth in the water level, the first two power generating units began trial operations Tuesday, and the Yangtze River, China's longest river on which the project is located, will reopen for navigation on June 16.

"Successful completion of water storage means the Three Gorges Project has overcome the first challenge of nature," said Zhang Chaoran, chief engineer of the Three Gorges Project Development Corporation.

The Three Gorges Project embodied the pursuit and hard struggle of several generations of the Chinese people, he said. It was a milestone in China's efforts to harness big rivers.

The Yangtze River, with its source on the Tanggula Range on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, has 3,600 tributaries and its trunk course has a total length of 6,300 km. The river and its tributaries run through 18 provinces with a total population of 400 million, accounting for one third of China's total population.

On average, there has been one devastating flood every 10 years on the river over the past 2,100 years. The two big floods in the 1930s alone killed nearly 300,000 people. Harnessing the river has become a dream of the Chinese people. At the end of the 18th century, Sun Yat-sen, the forerunner of the Chinese revolution, proposed the building of a dam at the Three Gorges.

Since the founding of New China in 1949, the Chinese government has placed construction of the project high on its agenda. The National People's Congress, the highest legislature of China, officially approved the 180-billion-yuan (US$21.7 billion) Three Gorges Project in 1992.

During the 10-year construction, Chinese workers have set a series of technical records.

The Three Gorges Project will begin to pay dividends this year, playing an important role in flood control, power generation, navigation, water diversion and environmental protection.

Launched in 1993, the construction of the Three Gorges Project is scheduled for completion in 2009.

(China Daily June 11, 2003)

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