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Benefits of the Three Gorges Dam


Benefitsof the Three Gorges Dam

Benefitsof the Three Gorges Dam

TheThree Gorges Dam in China is considered one of the largesthydroelectric power projects in the world. From the project, theChinese government hopes to reap economic, agricultural and flood,and shipping benefits. In this paper, the article evaluates thesebenefits despite the environmental and geological concerns raised byconservationists about the project.


Completedin 2009, the Three Gorges Dam has brought a lot of economic benefitsto the area and China in general. One of the economic advantages ofthe project is the generation of clean hydroelectric energy or power.The scheme is designed to generate over eighteen billion kilowatthours of electricity every year. The production of this amount ofenergy is expected to boost China’s energy needs that rely heavilyon coal as a non-renewable source of energy with a lot of greenhouseeffects on climate. Hydroelectric power is a renewable and asustainable source of energy that will help China meet its energyneeds and reduce greenhouse gas emissions (Gleick, 2009). Secondly,floods have created economic destruction to the area and the peoplein the region. Therefore, the construction of the dam is expected tocontrol floods in a region that have perennially experienceddevastating floods in its history for a long time. Flood protectionis an economic benefit that will enable the people in the region toavoid loss of homes, land and property. It is anticipated that thefrequency of flooding will be reduced to one hundred years once theconstruction of the project is completed. Another economic benefit ofthe project is tourism (The Three Gorges Dam, n.d). The project isranked as the largest hydroelectric project in the world and has thepotential to attract not only local Chinese citizens but alsointernational tourists as well. Tourism will therefore generateimmense economic benefits for the people. Another economic benefitthat will be derived from the project is the quick transportation ofagricultural products and other cargo along the river since the damis expected to boost navigation, especially upstream through theconstruction of its reservoir. The residents along the river rely onwater for long-distance travel and the shipping of goods. Therefore,the improvement of navigation along the Yangtze River will improvetransportation and the region’s economy (Hvistendahi, 2008).Furthermore, the project is expected to provide access to clean andsafe drinking water due to the reservoir that is to be constructed inthe area.

Floodand Agricultural Benefits

Oneof the primary reasons for the construction of the dam was to controlfloods in an area that had experienced some of the worst floods inChina’s history. Flood control is a benefit that the project needsto fulfill because of the economic and social impacts that arise fromswamping (Hvistendahi, 2008). The project seeks to control floodingin the middle and lower parts of the Yangtze River an area that hashistorically suffered the brunt of the flooding, for instance in1931, over fifty thousand people died and over three hundred thousandhectares of agricultural land was flooded. Again, in 1998, floodingin the region led to the loss of billions of dollars because of thedamages produced. However, because of the dam’s construction, theChinese government claims that it has averted floods that could haveaffected the area in 2007. The government remains optimistic that thebenefits of the dam will be assessed over the next decades with theexperience of a wider range of high flows from the dam. Theagricultural benefits from the project cannot be ignored (Gleick,2009). The project is expected to control floods and allow localfarmers, both upstream and downstream to practice agriculture withoutthe worry of losing their crops to the flood waters. Furthermore,these farmers will have access to water for irrigation purposes andcarry out agriculture throughout the year. They will also be able totransport their produce to other markets because of the easynavigation that the project shall provide both upstream anddownstream. Again, the project will improve fisheries along theriver, especially in its upstream section and thus improve overallagricultural production along the Yangtze River.


TheThree Gorges Dam will improve the waterways conditions significantlybetween the port cities of Yichang and Chongqing. During the dryseason, the water in the lower section of the river can reach theGezhouba Water control dam. Consequently, the area will get amplesupply of water from the project (Gleick, 2009). The navigation ofthe upper and middle courses of Yangtze River will be improved withthe construction of the dam. Effectively, the dam will make it easyfor ships with tens of thousands of freight to sail through the riverfrom the port city of Chongqing to Shanghai. The improvement of thenavigable waterways will lead to an increase in the fleet and size ofships that use the waters. Imperatively, shipping costs are set todecrease and freight transport much easier and faster than before(The Three Gorges Dam, n.d). The project has improved the waterway byover six hundred kilometers and allowed the big ships to use thewaterways. Again, agricultural produce from the region shall betransported easily to other markets, as far as Shanghai on the coastand improve the economic and social status of the farmers in thearea. The ease of navigating the river will lead to easy access byvessels.


Gleick,P.H. (2009). Three Gorges Dam Project, Yangtze River, China. TheWorld’s Water

2008-2009.Accessed on November 21, 2016fromhttp://worldwater.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/07/WB03.pdf

Hvistendahi,M (2008). China`s Three Gorges Dam: An Environmental Catastrophe?Accessed

onNovember 21, 2016 fromhttps://www.scientificamerican.com/article/chinas-three-gorges-dam-disaster/

TheThree Gorges Dam. Accessed on November 21, 2016 from