Unsafe Dams Threaten 146 Million Chinese

July 12, 2005 12:00 am Last Updated: July 12, 2005 12:00 am

Recent severe floods in the southern provinces of China have caused criticism regarding the safety of dams in China. It has been reported that around 30,000 dams have safety concerns, which threatens over 400 cities and 146 million people.

A June 27 Beijing China News Weekly report quoted Water Resource Department data, saying that 3,484 dams collapsed from the year 1954 to year 2003, with an average of 71 dam collapses per year.

The report indicated that insufficient budget causes a lack of proper repair and maintenance of some dams in China. Take Jiangxi province as an example, where the Water Resource Department faces an inherited mess. There are estimated to be a total of 9,268 dams in the province, of which, 3,488 dams are in "critical" condition, which totals 37.6 percent of the dams in Jiangxi.

The repair of LiLing Dam of Poyang county, Shangrao City, has been long overdue with the flood release gates being rusty and ceasing operation. One expert who inspected the dam is worried that the collapse of the dam is anticipated the next time there is a severe shower. This expert says, "At that time, it will claim all the lives of 3,000 or so people in the nearby two villages." The report also stated that, according to Shangrao City Water Resource Department Section Chief Gong JianXin, "the fundamental maintenance of the dams has been paralyzed."

According to the report, there are a total of 84,000 dams in China, but 30,000 of them are in "critical" condition, which threaten over 400 cities and the lives and poverty of a population of 146 million.