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Home : China Guide : Hubei : Three Gorges Dam

The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River has been a dream for generations and will be one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken by mankind. This great dam, the largest of its kind in the world, will provide China with tremendous power generation and flood control services. It was in 1992 that the Chinese Government finally gave the go ahead for the scheme, some seventy years after Dr. Sun Yet-Sen, pioneer of the Chinese democratic revolution, first proposed the idea.

Three Gorges DamThe dam site is 27 miles upstream from Yichang City proper, at Sandouping Town, 38km upstream from the Gezhouba Dam Lock, inside the third of the Three Gorges. It is planned to be by far the largest hydroelectric project in the world. The Project calls for the construction of a concrete dam, a hydroelectric power plant and a series of locks just below the scenic Three Gorges region. The project is designed to be built in three phases and is scheduled for completion in year 2009.

One of the largest construction projects ever undertaken in the world, the Three Gorges Project will forever change the face of the Yangtze River as we know it today. Possessing comprehensive utilization benefits mainly for flood control, power generation and navigation improvement. It will be a vital important and backbone project in harnessing and developing of the Yangtze River. Measures have been taken to preserve and move the historical and cultural relics found along its banks; however many scenic spots will be adversely affected. The most dramatic section of the river, what we refer to as "the heart of the Yangtze"-the area from the Three Gorges all the way upstream to Chongqing-will eventually be drowned by the completion of the Three Gorges Dam, an integral part of the Three Gorges Project.

Gezhouba Water Conservancy Project (Gezhou Ba)
Another great dam project on the Yangtze River, this dam will be a conveyance system for the "Three Gorges Project" in the future. This project has elevated the water level of the river 100 meters from the Three Gorges Dam, by 20 meters and the sea-route has been largely improved.

The Gezhouba Water Conservancy Project includes the barrage, the power plant, the ship brake, the flood discharge brake, and the fishway, etc. It is currently the largest hydropower station in China. The embankment is 2,561m long and 70m high, which controls a drainage area of 1,000,000km2 with total content of 1.58 billion steres. With 21 dynamos the hydropower station will generate 13.8 billion KWH a year.

The No.3 ship lock is 18 meters in width and 120 meters in length, which allow passenger and cargo vessels and smaller ships of less than 3000 tons to pass. The No. 2 lock is 34 meters wide and 280 meters long and is able to accommodate ships over 10,000 tons.

It takes about 50 minutes for a ship to go through the second lock, and most cruising lines offer observation time when the ship through it.

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Project Introduction
The Three Gorges Dam will comprise three parts: the dam itself, the hydropower stations and the navigation facility.

Location: The chosen site is in Sandouping, northwest of Yichang city in Hubei Province and is located at the downstream entrance to Xiling Gorge, 40 kilometers upstream from Gezhouba Dam.

Project Schedule
Expected to have a total duration of 17 years, the work has been divided into three stages.

5 years (1993 -- 1997) Preparation period and first stage construction.
6 years (1998 -- 2003) Second stage construction
7 years (2003 -- 2009) Third stage construction

First Stage (1993 -- 1997)
The initial stage involved preparation work and in 1994, the project was formally commenced. In the main this entailed the filling of the cofferdam and excavation of the diversion channel in the first stage construction pit. At the same time, on the left bank of the river a temporary ship lock was constructed. The water and shipping continued to follow the original river course. In 1997, the successful damming of the Yangtze River attracted very many tourists at home and from abroad.

Second Stage (1998 -- 2003)
The main tasks of this stage are to construct the further cofferdams both upstream and downstream, electricity station facilities on the left dam and the installation of machinery. Meanwhile, the permanent navigation buildings will be finished on the left bank. During the second period, the river water will flow through the diversion channel and shipping will use either the open diversion channel or the temporary ship lock.

Third Stage (2003 -- 2009)
After the successful completion of the second stage, the third stage will become the focus of attention. During this period, the power station on the left bank and the permanent ship lock will be brought into use. All ships on the river will use the permanent ship lock while the river will flow through the permanent bottom and the temporary diversion outlets in the spillway dam. The dam sections and the electricity station on the right riverbank will be constructed, and the installation of all machinery will be finished. Once the project is completed in 2009 the depth of normal level of the water in the reservoir will be 175 meters.

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Three Gorges, Wuhan to Chongqing, Wu Gorge, Qutang Gorge, Xiling Gorge, The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River has been a dream for generations and will be one of the largest construction projects ever undertaken by

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