Three Gorges Dam Causing Drought in Southwest China?
Chinese leaders say it is climate change, not to the Three Gorges Dam and other vast hydro-engineering works that causes China's worst drought in fifty years. Drought and shortage of drinking water in Sichuan province in southwest China has affected some 17 million people. Drought has also affected the flow of the Mekong River, where Chinese authorities have diverted water to build the Manwan and Dachaoshan dams. The drought in the Yangtze basin this summer have spurred speculations that the massive Three Gorges dam has upset the region’s ecological balance and is causing the decrease in rainfall. Meanwhile, China's leaders are considering new huge, and controversial, water-diversion programs to transfer water from the south to the parched north and northwest. Work is under way on tunnels for the “South-North Water Transfer Project.” The project’s Central route is to carry water from the Yangtze River up north to Beijing. The Eastern route of the water transfer project is also under construction. Construction of the Western route—which is to tap into the Jinsha and other Tibetan plateau rivers and carry it to Qinghai province and other poor western areas—could start as early as 2010. Antoaneta Bezlova, “Environment-China: Gov't Denies Droughts Caused by Big Dams,” Inter Press Service, 30 August 2006.