Three Gorges Dam sees largest flood peak since its construction
Published: Aug 20, 2020 09:03 PM

Three Gorges Dam. Photo: Xiao Weinan

The Three Gorges Dam has seen the largest flood peak since the construction of the reservoir, reaching 75,000 cubic meters per second at 8 am on Thursday. Eleven of the reservoir's spillway holes have since been opened, discharging a record 49,200 cubic meters of water per second. 

As heavy floods continue to impact the regions along the Yangtze River, Chinese President Xi Jinping, also general secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and chairman of the CPC Central Military Commission, stressed the importance of the armed forces' unremitting efforts to complete follow-up tasks related to flood control and disaster relief when he inspected flood-affected areas in East China's Anhui Province.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang arrived in Southwest China's Chongqing on Thursday before visiting residents in Shuangba village, where more than 8,000 people were affected by the floods. Li urged local authorities to strengthen their flood control and disaster relief work to ensure the safety of people's lives and property. 

Although the largest recorded inflow peak and discharge flow have fueled concerns over the capacity of the dam to handle the floods, water conservation experts calmed the public by saying a higher flow of flood water is expected, but the dam is designed to withstand much more. 

Such a high inflow flood peak can pose risks to the dam only under circumstances when the flood lasts for an extended period of time, which will not happen as it can be predicted that the peak would recede in two or three days' time, Gao Jianguo, a member of the expert committee with the National Commission for Disaster Reduction, told the Global Times on Thursday.  

The Three Gorges Corp together with the Ministry of Water Resources and other authorities have been carrying out a joint operation to help contain the flood, according to a statement sent by The Three Gorges Corp to the Global Times on Thursday. 

It is expected to reduce the downstream flood volume by about two billion cubic meters following the joint deployment of dams in the upstream of the Yangtze River managed by the Three Gorges Corp, said the statement.

The operation will greatly reduce the flood control pressure of the Three Gorges project and ease the flood defense pressure for Southwest China's Sichuan Province and Chongqing Municipality, it noted. 

On Thursday, Chongqing closed Hongya Cave, a tourist attraction known for its similarity to a building from the Japanese animated movie Spirited Away, as well as a number of other scenic spots and public avenues after the city launched its first ever Level-I emergency response to the flood on Tuesday. 

The water level detected at Cuntan Port Station in Chongqing, located at the upper reaches of the Yangtze River, reached 191.55 meters on Thursday morning, 8.05 meters above the "safety" line, the highest point since the station was established in 1939. 

Days of heavy rain in some parts of Sichuan Province have also caused waters to rise. In Leshan, floods have reached the toes of the famous towering Leshan Giant Buddha statue for the first time in 70 years, drawing attention from domestic and international netizens. 

However, aerial images on Wednesday showed the Buddha's toes are now exposed as the water level in Leshan retreats below the platform of the Buddha's feet.

Global Times