Yangtze River Hitting Bottom

Saturday, May 7, 2011 6:43
Posted in category China Logistics
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Least week, during the May holiday, I spent 4 days aboard the Yangtze Explorer going up the river from Yichang to Chongqing, and as you can see from the pictures above the river was far from full.

Explained as “normal” by almost all the tour guides (who also told us that everyone was happy after being relocated), the river levels are roughly 40-50 meters off their peak levels as (again according to the tour guides who said everyone who was relocated was happy happy) to accommodate the upcoming rainy season will fill the gorges with what used to be flood water.

Certainly some historical precedent to support that argument, but with the recent news that river levels in the middle reaches of the Yangtze are at 50 year lows, and that boats are getting stuck, I suspect that there is something else going on.

The water level of the the Yangtze River has been sharply reduced since February of this year, with its middle reaches decreasing to levels not seen in fifty years. In addition, water levels near the river’s Three Gorges Dam are at five-year lows.

Given the fact that while  power shortages and drought conditions exist along the Yangtze, and the 3 Gorges Dam is not releasing water (click here to see picture) to relieve the power shortages and drought conditions, I myself am left to wonder what the real story behind the river levels are while at the same time pondering the thinking that the conditions will only continue to get worse as more infrastructure projects along the river are brought online.

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