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Wetlands expert: China should think outside the flooding box with Three Gorges Dam
Date:10/23/2008

COLUMBUS, Ohio China's farmers and merchants should take advantage of new agricultural and business opportunities that could help mitigate some effects of the annual flooding behind the Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River, according to an Ohio State University wetland expert.

The level of water in the reservoir behind the dam will top off at 575 feet above sea level during the coming winter. The reservoir pool, covering abandoned cities, houses and farm fields formerly populated by an estimated 1.5 million people, will extend over 400 square miles equivalent to the land area of Hong Kong. Then by summer the water level will drop 100 feet, and the cycle of flooding and receding water will repeat every year after that.

The region will become home to an entirely new ecosystem as an unprecedented amount of water covers what used to be dry land.

The Three Gorges Dam is the largest hydro-electric project in the world, intended to combine the generation of clean power with downstream flood control, and enable shipping in China's interior. Critics are concerned that the reservoir will contain factory toxins and raw sewage and that sediment might cause the reservoir level to rise higher than planned, threatening to flood a large city upstream and possibly even send water spilling over the top of the dam.

The flooding is expected to extend as much as 185 miles upstream. Almost 14,000 acres of land in the Pengxi River valley will be seasonally flooded, possibly for as long as six months each year, by the pooling behind the dam.

Opportunities exist to try to make the best of the new ecosystem conditions of unprecedented fluctuating water levels, says William Mitsch, an environmental and natural resources professor at Ohio State University.

Among the possibilities: introducing new agricultural practices during low water levels, creating terraced ponds and wetlands along the borders of the giant reservoir, and establi
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Contact: William Mitsch
Mitsch.1@osu.edu
614-292-9774
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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