Three Gorges Dam takes the biggest flood of the year

Flood water is released from the Three Gorges Dam, a gigantic hydropower project on the Yangtze River, in Yichang City, central China's Hubei Province, July 24, 2012.

The Three Gorges Dam saw its biggest flood this year on Tuesday, as water from the Yangtze River upper reaches gushed at 69,000 cubic meters per second into the dam’s reservoir at 8 a.m.

The dam is working to take the edge off the fierce flood and reduce its impact on the river’s lower reaches by storing at least 26,000 cubic meters of flood water every second, the Yangtze River flood control and drought relief headquarters said in a press release.

Thanks to the dam’s buffer effect, water outflow from the dam currently measures 43,000 cubic meters per second, it said.

Water inflow into the dam area is expected to hit 70,000 cubic meters per second when the flood peak arrives between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the statement said.

It said the force of the flood has far exceeded that of the most devastating Yangtze flood in recent memory, which caused a large amount of damage in 1998. The flow rate for that year’s flood was over 50,000 cubic meters per second.

The ongoing flood is therefore the biggest challenge the dam has faced since it started storing water, the headquarters said.

Boat traffic in the area has been suspended. All of the Three Gorges’ ship locks were closed Monday night, forcing more than 700 vessels to drop anchor for safety considerations.

The Three Gorges Project consists of a dam, a five-tier ship dock and a total of 32 hydropower turbo-generators.

The project generates electricity, controls flooding by providing storage space and adjusts shipping capacity on the river.

The dam reservoir stores flood water in summer and releases it in the dry season to ease droughts, particularly in downstream rice-growing areas.

Xinhua