Impacts of Three Gorges Dam
Landscape and Cultural Heritage
After the impoundment of the reservoir, higher water level and wider channel would change the scenery of the canyon to a certain extent' The elevations of mountains and peaks along the banks in the gorges range from 800 to 1, 100 m in nature. The elevations of the famous 12 peaks in Wuxi a Gorge are around 1,000 m. The most reputed Goddess Peak is more than 900 m above sea level. The normal pool level of the reservoir at 175 m will result in an increase of 40 to 110 m higher in the Gorges than at present. So the steep canyon enclosing the river valley will be basically untouched, even though the rapids and dangerous shoals will be eliminated. Better navigation condition will provide access to new scenic views, for instance, the Mini Three Gorges" along the Daning River' The magnificent Three Gorges Project shall certainly become a new hot spot of tourism.
The impoundment of the reservoir will affect 44 archaeological sites and ancient monuments. Of them, Baiheliang, the famous ancient low water record tablets near Fuling city, is protected by the State, other 5 by provinces' The most famous ones, however, will not be inundated such as the Ghost City in Fengdu county, the Baidicheng Town in Fengjie county and the Huangling Temple in Yichang city.
According to the planning, efforts will be made to salvage the yangtze river cultural heritage that may be inundated. For example, the Baiheliang low water tablets and the Zhangfei Temple will be relocated and exhibited in suitable places. Because only the foundation will be affected, the Shibaozhai in Zhongxi an county and the Quyuan Temple in Zigui county will be protected by foundation consolidation and strengthening.
There are 47 rare or endangered plant species protected by the nation in the surrounding areas affected by the reservoir, most of them grow between 300 to 1,200 m above sea level. There is little natural vegetation in the inundated area. The impoundment, therefore, will not bring about serious losses.
Totally 26 rare animals of class I and E protected by the nation are living in the remote andmountainous areas and will not be affected by the project.
The rare animals in the Yangtze River, such as Chinese dolphin and Chinese sturgeon have been protected by means of natural reserves and artificial spawning. The construction and operation of TGP will affect their habitats to a certain degree so it is necessary to intensify the implementation of countermeasures continually.
Systematic survey and research indicate that the habitats of Yangtze alligator and Siberian crane will not be affected.
Environment: Dam defenders point to the environmental benefits given by the dam, such as the availability of hydroelectric power, which is much cleaner than the coal burning China has relied heavily for decades. They believe the dam will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by reducing coal burning (thereby protecting the ozone layer) and have none of the radiation hazards at nuclear plants.
Critics pointed out, however, that new, cheaper alternatives such as gas-fueled combined cycle plants and co-generators produce virtually no pollution or greenhouse gases. They added that water pollution would increase as the power of the Yangtze , which helps flush pollutants dumped by the factories on the riverbanks, is reduced and as more factories are relocated to the edge of the reservoir. But dam defenders said they would prevent pollution while critics alleged that officials had merely told ships to stop dumping sewage.
Opponents also said the dam would alter the current ecosystem and threaten the habitats of various endangered species of fish, waterfowl and other animals. They added that the project would necessitate extensive logging in the area and erode much of the coastline. But dam defenders pointed to measures such as fish ladders being taken to address these issues, which some critics believed would be ineffective.
Local culture and natural beauty: Opponents said the 600-kilometer (370 mile) long reservoir would inundate some 1,300 archeological sites, destroy the legendary beauty of the Three Gorges and thereby substantially reduce the tourism revenue. Dam defenders said, however, that many cultural and historical relics are being moved to higher ground and that the rise in the water level would not affect the scenery as much as the critics claimed.
Why the Three Gorges Dam was built, please see more deltails, click here.