China is to begin raising water levels at the Three Gorges Project on Sunday, the developer of the massive water conservancy project announced on Saturday.
The trial operation is set to begin at midnight Sunday.
The water behind the dam would be raised to an unspecified higher level subject to conditions of the Yangtze River, where the project was built, the China Three Gorges Project Corporation (CTGPC) announced with approval of the State Council, the cabinet.
As of Saturday afternoon, the water level was 145.39 meters.
The plan takes into consideration both electricity generation and lower reaches navigation, and it should take more than a month, the company said.
Experts said there was no need to worry about flood control safety as historical data prove it is unlikely to have major flood peaks on the upper reaches of the Yangtze River after mid-September. They also said a higher water level wouldn't cause massive silting, or lead to serious natural disasters in nearby areas.
The Three Gorges Project, launched in 1993 with a budget equivalent to 22.5 billion U.S. dollars, is a multi-functional water control system built at the upper and middle reaches of the country's longest river.
Its main works are a dam, a five-tier ship lock, as well as 26 hydropower turbo-generators. Its key functions include flood control and power generation.
The project has been constructed in three phases. Storing water at the 175 meter level is a requirement for the last phase of construction.
The Three Gorges dam will have 14 turbo-generators on the left bank and 12 on the right which will produce 84.7 billion kw of electricity annually.
Monday, developers said the turbines will finish being installed in November.
There are plans to add six more turbines by 2012.
As of June, 1.24 million residents were relocated to make way for construction of the dam.
(Xinhua News Agency September 27, 2008)