Hard-engineering on the Yangtze

Dams

The Three Gorges Dam was completed in 2012 at a cost of £50 billion.

Positives
Protects over 100 million people further downstream.
Controls river flooding more than any other method.
Has 32 hydro-electric generators that produce ‘green’ energy.
Improved river safety and transport through the river.

Negatives
Most floods in recent years have been below the Three Gorges Dam area.
Geologists are concerned that the increased pressure caused by the water pressing against the walls of the dam has also increased the incidence of earthquakes.
Building the dam flooded 140 towns and forced over 1.2 million people to be relocated. They also lost their livelihoods as most were farmers and it was difficult for them to move to the city.

Levees and embankments

Over 3,600km of levees and embankments have been built to protect over 80 million people.

Positives
Less environmental impact. Levees can ‘blend in’ to the natural landscape.
Designed to withstand a 10 to 30-year frequency flood.
Animal habitats are rarely destroyed.

Negatives
Many of the levees were used along the area where the Three Gorges Dam now exists
The levees are only 15m high
In 1998 the Yangtze flooded over the top of the levees and killed 3,000 people and left over 30 million people homeless