Three Gorges Dam in danger . . .
With months of heavy rainfall, water levels on the Yangtze River have been testing the limit of China’s Three Gorges Dam. The Three Gorges, completed in 2012, was designed not only to reduce the risk of flooding from the Yangtze River, but also to generate hydroelectric power for nearby residents. As of Friday, the reservoir had reached 165.6 metres in depth, just 9.4 metres shy of the maximum depth of 175 metres. To relieve pressure on the dam and prevent overflow, on Thursday authorities raised the discharge level to 48,800 cubic metres per second, heightening the risk of flooding in the Yangtze’s downstream areas.
Significant damage from flooding . . .
Heavy rainfall has continued to pound China’s central and southern regions. As of August 13, China’s meteorological agency recorded the highest level of rainfall since 1961. Heavy rain in the Yangtze River Basin has led to severe flooding in the provinces of Anhui, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangxi, and Sichuan. More than 219 people have been reported dead or missing due to the flooding, and the economic damages are estimated at C$31 billion. More than 63 million people have been affected by the flooding and 54,000 homes have been destroyed. China has mobilized 52,000 troops to conduct disaster relief.
Dam diplomacy . . .
Canada was involved in the construction of the Three Gorges Dam, providing feasibility studies as well as supplying turbines for the dam’s generator. As Canada looks to become one of China’s sustainable and reliable energy products suppliers, it can collaborate and exchange know-how with Chinese counterparts on non-traditional security threats that impact large populations. Even amidst tense bilateral relations, technical co-operation on issues like dam safety could be an area where Canada and China find common ground.