Three Gorges Dam

Created by:Michael Jolitz - Undergraduate at UW Eau Claire Wisconsin


A Geography 361 Environmental Hazards Project


Human Rights



The three gorges dam is located in the Sandouping, Yiching, Hubei province of China. It will extend across the Yangtze river . The main functions of the dam will be for flood control, power generation, and improved navigation. The dam is one and a half miles wide and more than 600 feet high (181 meters). It will create a reservoir that is nearly 400 miles long.The expected investment into the project is 24.65 billion dollars. Some unofficial estimates are as high as 75 billion. The first ideas for building a dam began in 1919 for power generation. From 1993 to 1997 the river was diverted after four years.When completed in 2009 the dam will generate 18,200 megawatts of power. This will be 50 percent more than South America's Itaipu Dam, which currently is the largest dam in the world. In comparison in the United States, the Grand Coulee Dam on the Columbia River in Washington state generates 6,800 megawatts of power.

This photograph to the left is dumping granite along the main channel to divert the Yangtze river. According to an article from the Washington post for six and a half hours, a procession of oversized earth movers — 118 per hour — dropped 45-ton and 77-ton loads of rock and gravel into a 33-foot gap in the barrier. At 3:15 p.m., the pool of water below the barrier grew still and the river above turned to join the water flowing through a temporary diversion channel. There was also a series of five locks built that carry the boats over the dam in a series of steps.

The dam is being funded by The Three Gorges Dam Construction Fund, revenue from Gezhouba Power Plant, Policy Laons from the China Development Bank, Loans from domestic and foreign commercial banks, and corporate bonds (source: China Daily Business Weekly).

The engineers of this project also had to design a lock system for ships. The shiplift is designed as one stage vertical hoisting type with a maximum hoisting distance of 113 meters.the ship container of the shiplift is in a size of 120*18*3.5 m,capable of carrying 3,000 tons of passenger or cargo boat each time.It is the biggest and the most complicated shiplift in the world.

Time Table

1993-1997: The Yangtze River was diverted after four years in November 1997
1998-2003: The first batch of generators will begin to generate power in 2003 and a permanent ship lock is scheduled to open for navigation the same year.
2004-2009: The entire project is to be completed by 2009 when all 26 generators will be able to generate power.

Construction timetable (source: China Daily Business Weekly):

There have been many groups in opposition to the Three Gorges project. One of them is the International River Network. They support local communities working to protect their rivers and watersheds. The network wprks to halt destructive river development projects, and to encourage equitable and sustainable methods of meeting needs for water, energy and flood management. They are a a nonprofit all-volunteer organization of activists.