A record 1.3 million visitors will have visited the mammoth dam area of the Three Gorges Project on the middle reaches of the Yangtze by the end of the year.
At 9:55 a.m. Saturday, the dam area notched up its 1 millionth visitor for the year, according to Chen Menjiu, general manager of the Yangtze River Three Gorges Tourism Company.
The increase in the number of tourists can be attributed to two key milestones: completion of the gigantic dam in May, and the raising of the water level from 135 meters to 156 meters last Wednesday, according to Zhang Chao, deputy manager of the Yangtze River Three Gorges Tourism Company.
1.16 million people had to be relocated when construction of the 203.9 billion yuan (US$25.5 billion) Three Gorges project began in 1993. The massive dam has a span of 2,309 meters and is 185 meters high. There are 26 power generators on the two banks of the river, and a five-tier, dual-track ship lock.
When completed in 2009, the reservoir will have a capacity of 39.3 billion cubic meters and produce 84.7 billion kw/h of electricity annually.
Workers have completed the dam, installation of 14 generating units on the northern bank and most of the ship lock system. Thirteen of the 26 generators are already producing electricity.
The installation of 12 more generating units on the southern bank of the Yangtze is underway.
1.05 million tourists visited the dam last year.
(Xinhua News Agency September 24, 2006)