China's Three Gorges: Before the Flood China's Three Gorges Dam is the largest project in history since The Great Wall. When the dam is completed twelve years from now, it will be the most powerful dam ever built. The dam will stand 607 feet high and more than a mile wide. , equivalent to 18 nuclear power plants. At peak load, 26 turbines will generate 18, 200 megawatts of electricity It will create a reservoir 370 miles long, with a system of locks designed to bring prosperity through maritime commerce to China's interior (Zich 8). Many of the inhabitants of the Yangtze River will be forced from their ancestral homes and farms.
Many of the cities along the rivers bank will be devastated. Half the people destined to be moved are farmers. The reservoir will take up as many as 240, 000 acres of farmland. Some of the inhabitants of the region are in favor of the dam and believe it will help future generations, while others believe the dam will destroy much of the cultural and historical value of the area. Archaeologists estimate that some 8, 000 un excavated sites will be lost forever in a tomb of water and sediment. (Zich 20) The Yangtze River has shaped the landscape of China over of the centuries and has created different cultural and territorial boundaries.
The river and tributaries encompass over 700, 000 square miles. The river divides China into northern and southern regions. It separates cultural and religious differences and matters as simple as culinary tastes. The Three Gorges region represents one of the true seats of Chinese civilization. In this region history intersects with myth. The river and the region have many religious and metaphorical connotations.
The gorges were supposedly created by a folk hero, Yu. With the help of a troop of dragons, reconfigured China's hills and valleys to drain the land and make it habitable for humans. (Zich 21) The gorges have inspired artists and poets to create and reflect on the remarkable landscape of the Three Gorges. Along the banks of the Yangtze River many factories and mills deposit pollutants which flow throughout the region and away from the Three Gorges region due to the powerful nature of the river. Many opponents of the dam warn that the Three Gorges reservoir will turn into a huge cesspool. The dam will create still waters which will equal foul waters.
(Zich 28) The building of the Three Gorges Dam has had a tremendous impact on the people and region. The activity around the region has created an uprising of many different cities, bridges, and highways being erected high above the gorges. The amount of time and money involved in constructing such a project is inconceivable, but the Chinese government intends to finish the project, whatever the cost.