BEIJING • China warned that the massive Three Gorges Dam faced its largest-ever flood surge as President Xi Jinping toured one of the areas hardest hit by a wave of flooding this summer.
Some 74,000 cubic m of water per second was expected to flow into the Three Gorges reservoir and the Cuntan area in the upper reaches of the Yangtze River yesterday and today, the Ministry of Water Resources said.
The peak flow was expected to be the most severe in almost four decades and largest since the construction of the dam, it said.
The dam, which has held back the Yangtze in Hubei province since its completion in 2006, is the world’s biggest power plant, five times the size of the Hoover Dam in Nevada.
Since June, the structure has weathered severe flooding that has affected over 63 million people nationwide and caused some 178 billion yuan (S$35 billion) of economic damage, according to the Ministry of Emergency Management.
On Tuesday, Mr Xi inspected flood-control measures on the Huai River, another flood-prone waterway in the adjacent Anhui province.
He urged efforts to modernise flood prevention measures, adding that China had been “fighting natural disasters for millennia”, according to official Xinhua News Agency.
“We will need to continue the fight,” Mr Xi said. “This fight needs to respect nature, and follow the law of nature, and to co-exist with nature harmoniously.”
The floodgate that Mr Xi visited in Fuyang city was near a flood-diversion area where the authorities released 375 million cubic m of water last month, submerging dozens of villages and swamping thousands of hectares of crops.
The release of flood water in Anhui’s Mengwa area marked the first time in 13 years that the authorities had taken such action.
Floods in China’s key farming areas, together with supply disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic and locust swarms, have prompted Mr Xi to launch a national campaign to curb food waste.
The trip by the President highlighted the risk to not just life and property, but also the ruling Communist Party, which has been criticised for past struggles to control the country’s flood-prone rivers.
The tour represented Mr Xi’s first public appearance since July 31. Such mid-August reappearances by top leaders are widely anticipated each year as confirmation that the Communist Party’s annual summer meetings in the resort area of Beidaihe have wrapped up.
The record floods were unlikely to cause major safety risks to the Three Gorges Dam, the state-run Science Daily has reported. Yet as the Three Gorges accelerates discharges to prepare for the inflows, downstream areas of the Yangtze face higher risk of flooding.