The Three Gorges Dam is located on the Yangtze River in East China. This is one of China’s most well-known dams and not for good reasons. The Three Gorges dam “is the world’s largest hydropower project…” (www.internationalrivers.org). Although it is a very successful hydropower project there has been many consequences to the environment around the river. It has negatively effected the land, economy, and people in the area.
The accumulation of factories and industries around the dam has made the Yangtze River a dump site. There has been a drastic increase in residue and pollutants in the river. These toxic wastes building up in the reservoir and spots downstream on the river are causing land slides making the area dangerous and the soil unusable for planting.
This leads me into the economy issues around the dam. The pollutants in the river are seeping into the soil surrounding the river which is drastically decreasing the amount of farming happening in the area. The fishing economy is almost nonexistent in the area because the fish in the rivers have either died off or are so mutated from the toxins that they are unsafe to eat.
The decline in the success of the farming and fishing economy has caused many families to leave the area. Without these two main economic industries many people had no way of making an income and were forced to find work else where. The Three Gorges Dam forced more than 1.2 million to relocate to different areas. The economic decline is not the only reason so many people moved. The harsh conditions and unpredictable water levels has made many areas near the dam unlivable. It has become a dangerous place to live with all of the toxins and different water levels. There are some towns that are flooded due to the dam where others are in a major drought. Neither of these conditions is good for living.
China’s government finally recognized this dam as a cause of “urgent problems” around the area. Although the industries that are based around the dam are thriving almost ever other industry in the area are suffering. Even though China’s government can see the problems they still plan to create more of these dams throughout the country. They believe that with the Three Gorges Dam as a model for them to prevent future problems that the industry will be able to prevent disasters. They plan on building these dams in some of the most biologically diverse and economically important rivers. For example, plans for building hydropower projects on the Lancang River and the Nu River have already been proposed.
Even though China’s government believes that they can prevent problems by looking at the The Gorges River Dam as an example of what not to do, I don’t think they will be able to prevent all of the disasters that will come from the building of these dams. I think that more planning and careful consideration needs to be put into place before the dams are built. After seeing the effects from the Three Gorges River Dam I would think that the majority of the people would be against creating more. With the building of more dams other industries in the same area of these dams are more likely to suffer and more people will be forced to move. The problems from the Three Gorges River Dam is not a unique case. Other hydropower projects create problems in their area similar to the ones caused by the Three Gorges River Dams. I don’t think China’s government will be able to create a dam that doesn’t cause disasters and destroy the peoples’ lives around it.
China and other countries should look at alternative options that may no be as harmful to the surroundings. Although other options may be more expensive, I feel as though saving other types of industries will balance out the cost of a more expensive energy source. Other sources of energy that can be taken into consideration is wind energy and/or solar energy. Focusing on these sources of energy will move the harsh industries away from the rivers and allow the farming, fishing, and other economic industries to rebuild and thrive again.