Yichang is the economic and cultural center of the western Hubei Province. It is located where the middle and upper reaches of the Yangtze River are divided.
Thanks to its advantageous geographic location, Yichang has been defined as a distributing center, an important trading port and a transportation hub along the Yangtze River linking west Hubei and east Sichuan since ancient times. For a very long time, it has been renown as "Gateway to the Three Gorges", and "Throat between Sichuan and Hubei". Today, Yichang remains a brisk river port of China, controlling the access to Chongqing to its southwest.
The geographic features of Yichang are quite different. There are mountains and forest in the west, a vast stretch of flat fertile land in the east. In the whole area of the city land, the mountain area amount for 69%, hills amount for 21%, plains amount for 10%, which form the characteristic of ground form of "7 mountains, 2 mounds and 1 plain".
Another great dam project on the Yangtze River, this dam will be a conveyance system for the "Three Gorges Dam Project" in the future. This project has elevated the water level of the river 100 meter from the Three Gorges Dam, by 20 meter and the sea-route has been largely improved.
The Gezhouba Water Conservancy Project includes the barrage, the power plant, the ship brake, the flood discharge brake, and the fishway, etc. It is currently the largest hydropower station in China. The embankilometerent is 2,561 meter long and 70 meter high, which controls a drainage area of 1,000,000 kilometer2 with total content of 1.58 billion steres. With 21 dynamos the hydropower station will generate 13.8 billion KWH a year.
The No.3 ship lock is 18 meter in width and 120 meter in length, which allow passenger and cargo vessels and smaller ships of less than 3000 tons to pass. The No. 2 lock is 34 meter wide and 280 meter long and is able to accommodate ships over 10,000 tons.
It takes about 50 minutes for a ship to go through the second lock, and most cruising lines offer observation time when the ship goes through it.
Not only is the Three Gorges Dam Project the largest water conservancy project in China, but also the largest in the world, mainly comprising of 3 large parts: the dam, the hydropower stations and the navigation buildings. After the implementation of the Three Gorges Dam Project, the normal pool level of the reservoir will be 175 m, and the total storage capacity 39.3 billion cubic m; the total acreage of the reservoir is 1084 square kilometer. This spans over 600 kilometer and whose average width is 1.1 kilometer.
The Three Gorges Dam Project is a key backbone project to embolden the Yangtze River. The Yangtze River is about 200 kilometer from Fengjie to Yichang, which goes through the gorges of Qutang, Wu and Xiling. This is the so-named Yangtze Three Gorges, which are famous for their precipice landscape. Lying in the Sandouping within Yichang, Hubei province, the famous Three Gorges Dam Project is located here.
The total duration of the Three Gorges Dam Project will last 17 years, which is divided into 3 stages.
• 5 years (1993-1997) Preparation period and first
At the first stage, some preparation work was done. In 1994, the project was formally put into execution. It mainly dealt with filling the cofferdam and excavating the open diversion channel in the first stage construction pit. At the same time, on the left bank of the river including completion of a temporary ship lock. The river water and shipping still went through the main river way. In 1997, the successful damming of the Yangtze River attracted lots of tourists at home and from abroad.
The main tasks of the second stage are to construct the second stage cofferdam on both upstream and downstream, electricity station facilities on the left dam and machine installation. Meanwhile, the permanent navigation buildings would be finished on the left bank. During the second period, the river water flows through the open diversion channel and the shipping goes through either the open diversion channel or the temporary ship lock. In November 2002, the damming of the open diversion channel of the Three Gorges Dam Project was successfully completed.
In the mean time many people worry this project will bring trouble to the tourism on the Yangtze River. Fact is that the worry is unnecessary. Because the second damming improved the Xiangxi sea-route, which diversifies the Three Gorges' travel routes, the 600 kilometer long waterway from Yichang to Chongqing will be improved, making it possible for 10,000 tons of fleet to sail directly upstream to Chongqing. The tourism will take on a new look after the second stage. Yichang city will still hold the Yangtze River Three Gorges International Tourism Festival. The festival aims to highlight Yichang's brilliant ancient cultures and archeological legacies, as well as its advanced water conservancy achievements to the visitors.
After the successful fulfillment of the second stage, the third stage becomes a focus at present. In this period, the dam on the right bank and the electricity station will be constructed, and the whole machine installation will be finished. The river will pass through the permanent bottom and the temporary diversion outlets in the spillway dam. The shipping will go permanently through the ship lock. At that time, the three gorges reservoir will be 600 kilometer long and 2,000 m wide at the widest point; its acreage will be 10,000 square kilometer. It will be a calm gorger-like reservoir.
Benefits for the people after completion of the Three Gorges Dam Project:
• Flood Control
After the implementation of the TGP, its normal pool level can produce the flood control capacity of 22.15 billion cubic m, which can control the biggest flood in 100 years; With the help of the flood diversion structure, the Three Gorges Dam Project can protect both banks of the Yangtze River from suffering the destructive disaster in 1,000 years. The fact is that the Three Gorges Dam Project is "the Patron Saint" to ensure the farmland and 15 million people's safety of lives and properties in the down river area of the Yangtze River.
• Power generation
With the dam built on the three gorges, the river water will generate electricity for hydropower stations of the three gorges. The profits are considerable. The designed annual generate electricity is 84.6 billion kilowatt hours. It's number one in the world and plays an important role in the development of the economy and reduction of the environmental pollution.
The 600 kilometer long waterway from Yichang to Chongqing will be improved, making it possible for 10,000 tons of fleet to sail directly upstream to Chongqing. The river boating will be improved from 10 million to 50 million tons per year and the transportation cost decreased 35-37%. After the adjustment to the reservoir, navigation conditions upstream and downstream, the Yangtze River has been greatly improved in low water seasons.
The Three Gorges Dam Project promotes the development of the
Three Gorges tourism. As the largest water conservancy in the
world, it puts the world-famous natural beauty and large water
conservancy man-made sights into together, which makes the three
gorges "the hottest" in tourism and press since recent years.
To develop tourism, the China Three Gorges Dam Project Corporation built the Tanziling for the travelers to visit the panorama of three gorges at the highest point of the building site. The exhibition house and environmental garden are located in the dam area, which includes the natural scenic spot Maogongshan and the old architecture Huangling Temple. All of them show that three gorges have the beauty of science and culture, and highlighting the Three Gorges Dam Project in China's water Conservancy effort.
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