Three Gorges Dam to unleash water, ease drought

Xinhua, May 8, 2011

The Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest hydropower project, is expected to increase its water discharges over three days in a bid to fight the severe drought that has ravaged Central China's Hubei province and some southern provinces since February.

The discharge speed of the dam will accelerate to 7,000 cubic meters per second during the next three days, 1,500 cubic meters faster than the inflow speed, said Wang Hai of the dam's construction and operation management bureau.

The decision was jointly made Saturday by the flood control and drought relief headquarters of the Yangtze River and China Three Gorges Corporation to fight the drought while maintaining normal shipping along the Yangtze River, China's longest waterway.

Hubei province, where Three Gorges is located, now is facing the worst spring drought in 50 years. Other downriver provinces such as Jiangxi and Hunan, both of which are major grain producers, are also affected by the drought.

This is the second time an emergency water discharge has occurred since the dam's operation began in 2006. In December 2009, Three Gorges postponed the impoundment plan and unleashed water to ensure shipping services on Dongting Lake and Poyang Lake located at the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River.