September 7, 2004


China suspends navigation on Three Gorges project as Yangtze River floods (AFP, Sep 07, 2004)

The Three Gorges Dam project has been closed to shipping for the first time since it began operation in July after the upper reaches of the Yangtze River started flooding, state media said Tuesday.

Water flow at the dam has surged over the warning levels of 45,000 cubic meters per second and is expected to reach 60,000 cubic meters per second by Wednesday, the Xinhua news agency said. [...]

"The flood will challenge embankments in the middle and lower reaches of the Yangtze River and may cause mountain torrents, landslide and mud-rock flows ...," said Chen Qijing, an official with the Hubei provincial flood control headquarters.

You'll find no end of people who think China's disastrous infrastructure boondoggles will all be useful one day.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 7, 2004 8:47 AM

I agree, Three Gorges Dam will prove to be exactly as useless as the US' Hoover Dam.

Without attempting to defend the Three Gorges project, it must be noted that the Yangtze River used to flood all the time before the dam; the test is not whether or not it floods, but whether or not it floods as often.

By the way, I've been to New Hampshire many times, and I'm struck by how many paved roads, bridges, electrical and power lines, and even the amount of indoor plumbing that I observed, so I'm not sure why you're so upset by infrastructure.

Posted by: Michael "Infrastructure Lover" Herdegen at September 7, 2004 9:23 AM


They work and we use them

China's building crap that won't last and that no one wants or will ever use.

Our infrastructure followed demand--it didn't create it.

Posted by: oj at September 7, 2004 9:32 AM

This is just reason #27 why the PRC will never be a threat to the US. China has a Stone Age infrastructure throughout most of its vast territory. Unless they funnel an enormous percentage of GDP into it, they will merely fall further behind the developed world. And if they funnel the needed funds into infrastructure, their military will be no more than a glorified national police force. Blue water navy? Are you kidding?

Posted by: Bart at September 7, 2004 9:51 AM

I live in NH on a gravel road, that anywhere else would be called a dirt road. It's swell and I never want to see it paved.

The Yangzte dam will provide benefits, but unfortunately the containment is projected to be largely silted in, in about 13 years, last I read. Helps unemployment though.

Posted by: genecis at September 7, 2004 10:52 AM

The same sort of silting argument was made about the dams on the Colorado., including similar time frames. That was in the 1970s and earlier. Not saying it's a bad or wrong argument, but one that can be rebutted (and, it would seem, the problem managed.)

Posted by: Raoul Ortega at September 7, 2004 12:00 PM


"China's building crap . . . " This is literally true. Upstream sewage effluent trapped by the dam has turned out to be a big problem, turning the dam into a large toilet bowl.

Having tried flood cases where Sacramento River levees broke, I am amazed at the 45,000 to 60,000 cubic meters per second numbers cited. As an expert explained to me, a cubic foot is the size of a basketball. A cubic meter is nine basketballs. Imagine standing on a riverbank and seeing 9 times 45000 basketballs rocketing by every second. That's one heck of a lot of water (bad floods on the Sacramento involved 20,000 cubic feet per second).

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at September 7, 2004 12:39 PM

Mr. Jacobsen, that is a useful rule of thumb to have...

Posted by: Ptah at September 7, 2004 12:52 PM


Funny how conservatives are correctly skeptical of the capacity of communism to produce anything worthwhile, except when they want to scare themselves silly about how threatening the commies are.

Posted by: oj at September 7, 2004 1:36 PM

Fred, a cubic meter is ~27 cubic feet, not 9. That makes 1.2 million basketballs/sec. vs. the 20K you cited for flood conditions on my river.

Posted by: James DeBenedetti at September 7, 2004 4:14 PM

James De:

Doh! That's why I'm a lawyer, not an engineer. I hope the ChiCom engineers are more able than I.

Posted by: Fred Jacobsen (San Fran) at September 7, 2004 4:36 PM