September 11, 2008

Three Gorges Project to Raise Water Level to 175 Meters

Three Gorges Project to raise water level to 175 meters

YICHANG, Sept.10 (Xinhua) -- Chinese authorities announced on Wednesday the Three Gorges Project water level would be raised to 175 meters, a milestone in its construction, in mid-September.

Both the Yangtze River Water Resources Committee, and China Three Gorges Project Corporation (CTGPC), the developer of the massive water control facility on the Yangtze, didn't give an exact date for doing so.

The monitored water level was 145.84 meters as of 10 a.m. on Wednesday, said a CTGPC source.

The Three Gorges Project, launched in 1993 with a budget equivalent to 22.5 billion U.S. dollars, is a multi-functional water control system built at the upper middle reaches of the country's longest river.

Its main works are a dam, a five-tier ship lock, as well as the installation of 26 hydropower turbo-generators.Its key functions include flood control and power generation.

The project has been constructed in three phases and storing water at the 175 meter level is a requirement it should meet when it completes the last phase of construction.

All the main works of the project were finished late last month after 16 years of efforts, said the CTGPC source.

A special committee assigned with the task to carry out inspection over the third phase of construction with the State Council, China's Cabinet, checked the main works of the project, and resettlement of residents earlier this year. It concluded in early August the project was fully qualified for storing water at 175 meters above sea level.

The Water Resources and Hydropower Planning and Designs Institute affiliated to the Ministry of Water Resources also testified the sluices set in the massive dam were safe for operation.

Altogether, 1.24 million residents in Chongqing and Hubei Province were relocated to make way for construction of the project as of June.

In accordance with an original plan, the Three Gorges called for the 26 generators, 14 on the left bank and 12 on the right, to produce 84.7 billion kwh of electricity annually upon its completion.

It will expand further to include six more turbines by 2012.

The 26 planned power generation turbines will be completed in November as the installation of the last one nears the end, the project developers said on Monday.

The Three Gorges project has generated nearly 260 billion kwh of electricity as of Monday since its first generator started operation in July 2003.

The electricity generated by the project fuels 15 provinces in central, eastern and southern China, easing a severe power shortage in industrial regions.

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