Drowned and Out
Three Gorges Dam Causing Unexpected Pollution Problems
Unexpected environmental problems are already cropping up at China’s Three Gorges Dam, the world’s largest hydropower and construction project. After the dam went into operation in June, the reservoir behind it reached 443 feet and was supposed to stay at that level until 2006, but the Chinese government recently announced that the reservoir is now expected to rise another 13 feet by the end of October. This increased water level could cause serious pollution problems, say dam observers, because it will inundate polluted sites that weren’t yet scheduled to be cleaned up. Enviros say the reservoir is set to become the world’s largest cesspool. Though the government gave no reasons for the unexpected rise in waters, one possible explanation is that silt is building up behind the dam more quickly than anticipated.