Officials say China’s controversial Three Gorges Dam is standing up well to its toughest test since it was completed last year.
Weeks of torrential rain have raised the Yangtze River behind the dam to record levels, bringing the reservoir to within 20 meters of its maximum capacity. Water flows in Hubei province, where the dam is located, are comparable to the record flows established during devastating floods in 1998.
China reported 4,150 people were killed in the 1998 floods. That compares to 146 dead and 40 missing after weeks of flooding across China this year.
Three Gorges, the world’s largest dam, was built primarily to generate electric power, but officials had said it would also be valuable for controlling floods. Critics had questioned the dam’s ability to do that and said the project has caused environmental damage and human suffering.
More than 1 million people were forced to move by the construction of the dam, which also has been blamed for increased landslides and seismic activity that could trigger an earthquake.