Can you still complain about your job?
After looking at this picture know that these guys are not making much money will you ever complain about your job again? If you do I'd hate to see your boss. When I saw these guys working it made me appreciate what I have. My back hurt just watching these guys.
Home of the Three Gorges Project
The Three Gorges Project is possibly one of the best known dams in the world, largely because it dramatically affects one of China's top narural phenomena, the Three Gorges of the Yangtze River.
Yet for all its fame, even many who cruise the river know much about the project. Much of what is known comes from media reports or focus simply on the enormous social and environmental changes caused by the dam.
It is the largest dam construction ever started, anywhere in the world, and is located 28km west of the town of Yichang in Hubei province. There is an existing dam on the river, usually not mentioned when the media talk about how the Three Gorges Project will affect the environment. This dam, the Gezhouba, is east of Yichang.
The Three Gorges Dam will raise the water height of the Yangtze from its original height of around 62 metres above sea level to a dry season height of 175 metres. During the wetter summer months (roughly June to October) the level in the dam will be lowered to around 145 metres to allow spare capacity to cope with the potential huge amounts of flood water that come down the river.
Currently, the water level is around 135 metres and willshortly increase to 155 metres, before reaching its design limit in 2009.
For the tourist in the longer term, it will certainly be best to see the river during the dry season when the dam is full. When a dam is below its maximum level, there is a sterile bank 30 metres high between any vegetation and the water. Travelling up any of the narrower side gorges will lack 'visual atmosphere' even more. Travelling up the Shennong stream during the summer months will be almost pointless.
At the main dam site, there are five vast ship locks on the north bank: these actually cut behind a large hill. The main dam is to the south of this and is in four parts: the world's biggest shiplift, the north power station, the spillway section, and lastly the south power station. In 2004, the five shiplocks are actually only operating as four locks - ships sail straight through the top lock which will not be used until the water level is raised to its full height. Getting through these locks takes much of the night (or day) and it is probably a question of time before some of the cruise operators shift their operations to the upstream side of the lock. This will allow more time in the Three Gorges or a quicker journey. For now, most cruises start or finish at one of a number of jetties in Yichang.
The dam will hold 39.3 billion cubic metres of water, and extend 580km upstream almost to the city of Chongqing. The highest water point will actually be in Baixian county which is the county due east of Chongqing. The visitor is unlikely to notice the effect for another 50 to 60km, as the waters have always risen and fallen tens of metres during the wet season. Chongqing itself is not in the reservoir area, but its harbour may well be affected. During the next few years, with the river hovering around the 135 to 155 metre mark, engineers will be constantly checking the level of silt deposition in Chongqing harbor, and other scientists will be checking the effect of the slower water flow in the Yangtze and the Jianling on the climate in Chongqing. The city is already terribly polluted, and the last thing it needs is more fog and mist!
The power stations, like everything else on the Three Gorges Project, are huge, with a planned 18,200 MW of electric output being accessible to people all over southern, central and eastern China.
I have few photographs of the dam area as we passed through the shiplocks during the night, and then had to rush to Wuhan for our train. I will be back though!