Now, We Wait: It’s likely when, not if TGD collapses

Plum rains are supposed to be a spring phenomenon in Asia, but they have continued unabated in China all through June and now into July, as mentioned a few weeks ago.

Upriver of the dam, cities and towns continue to be flooded, and the water has stressed the dam without relief.  To alleviate the pressure, they opened the floodgates.  ALL of them are open, the maximum flow out of the dam (never mind using it to generate power), and it’s still not enough to deal with the flow of water.

China Floods Calls Into Question Sustainability Of Massive Three Gorges Dam

Seems to be part of the times, no? A once in a generation pandemic, a once in a generation flood. Parts of China is literally up to its eyeballs in water, in what the Chinese government is calling a once in 100 years flood. The Three Gorges Dam, built to stop these things, is now in the spotlight.

[. . .]

Cities in the country’s central region along the Yangtze River — China’s longest river — have been flooded in the past week due to heavy rains this monsoon season. It was reported to be the worst flood since 1998, and not 100 years have some in Beijing have said.

All told, more than 400 Yangtze tributary rivers have overflowed, with nearly 200 people dead and properties underwater.

Average rainfall is around 12% higher than last monsoon season. The economic damage from flooding is expected to reach 86.2 billion yuan ($12 billion), according to some government estimates made on Friday.

Those may be optimistic estimates.  More below the fold.

China’s mouthpiece media may be willing to lie, but the reality of pictures and the government’s own actions are much harder to hide (e.g. the “relocation” aka evacuation of 44 million people).

Japan’s Nikkei Asian Review is out of their control and telling the real story (emphasis mine):

China warns of ‘stronger flood’ as Three Gorges Dam faces swell

Chinese authorities warned on Friday of the arrival of a “stronger” flood at the Three Gorges Dam and issued new alerts in downstream cities, as more rains are expected in the coming days.

Cities in the country’s central region along the Yangtze River — China’s longest river — have been inundated in the past week amid the annual monsoon season, with the worst flooding since 1998. Across the country, 433 rivers have flooded, and 141 people have died or are missing.

[. . .]

At the Three Gorges Dam, a multifunctional facility on the Yangtze River that includes flood prevention, upstream flooding is expected to cause a swell of water reaching 55,000 cubic meters per second at 8 p.m. local time on Friday, higher than the warning level of 50,000 cubic meters, according to the Changjiang Water Resources Commission.

[. . .]

At least 44 million people have been reportedly evacuated so far this year, partly due to poor flood prevention measures as local governments allocated their resources to curb a rebound in the coronavirus pandemic.

Normally anything Taiwan News says should be taken with a kilogram of salt, but their story matches Nikkei’s.

Satellite images show Three Gorges Dam opening all floodgates

A retired Indian Army colonel on Friday (July 10) released satellite images appearing to show the Three Gorges Dam releasing water far earlier than reported and at a much greater rate than announced.

Although the plum rain season started on May 29, and the China Meteorological Administration (CMA) had issued a heavy rain warning across China throughout the month of June, it was not until June 29 that the Chinese government finally admitted that it had released floodwaters from its spillways for the first time this year. That day, Beijing claimed that the dam’s operators had opened two spillways that morning, marking the first official flood discharge from the mammoth structure this year.

However, Colonel Vinayak Bhat (Retd.) on Friday in India Today released a satellite image showing an indication of water being released from at least five large and five small floodgates on June 24, five days before the Chinese government claimed it had released floodwaters. The Chongqing Municipal Hydrological Monitoring Station on June 22 issued its first red alert flood warning in 80 years for the Qijiang River.


  1. blf says

    China blows up dam on Yangtze river tributary to ease flooding (a different dam, not the TGD):

    The dam on the Chu river in Anhui province — a tributary of the Yangtze river — was destroyed with explosives on Sunday morning, state broadcaster CCTV reported, after which the water level was expected to drop by 70cm (2ft).

    The water released is being channelled into two storage ponds on a flood plain that can hold more than 60m cubic metres (2.1bn cubic ft) of water.

    Water levels on many rivers have been unusually high this year because of torrential rains. Blasting dams and embankments to discharge water was an extreme response employed during China’s worst floods in recent years in 1998, when more than 2,000 people died and almost 3m homes were destroyed.

    Last week, the gargantuan Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze opened three floodgates after the water level rose more than 15 metres (50ft) above flood level. Another flood crest is expected to arrive at the dam on Tuesday.


  2. xohjoh2n says

    Hmm. They could breed a whole bunch of extra sparrows do drink the extra rainfall and prevent the floods…

  3. kestrel says

    I would be terrified if I lived downstream of the TGD. I’m still terrified even though I don’t, but it would be a lot worse if I did. I feel bad for the people who do.

  4. blf says

    @2, Or Swallow “water bombers” — take a hollowed-out coconut with a hole and attach to a Swallow (African, not European). Then it scoops up some water into the coconut, carries the water-filled coconut to a place where the water is needed or at least less-damaging, dumps (bombs) the water out, repeat…

  5. Ridana says

    What’s the point of lying about when and how many floodgates were opened? I don’t see the PR value in it. How does getting more rain than expected and responding accordingly (sounds like they should’ve opened some even sooner) reflect badly on them? Are they like the Liar in Chief and they just do it on reflex?

  6. says

    The good news is that the spillways appear to be working the way they are supposed to, and – so long as nobody cheated too badly on the concrete yardage they poured, it ought to hold. Probably.

    But, yeah, if it breaks, that’s gonna be a whole lotta fuckage. In 1887 when the Yellow River flooded, it killed just around 1,000,000 people. A replay if the TGD breaks would be vastly worse.

    If it keeps on raining, levee’s going to break
    If it keeps on raining, the levee’s going to break
    When the levee breaks, we’ll have no place to stay

  7. says

    There are photos of what the dam looks like with the floodgates open. It’s really impressive. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near it unless it was “way upstream”