Man has always invented ways of making his life comfortable. Availability of electrical power is one of the very basic needs for the modern civilization. One of the ways through which power can be obtained is through the construction of dams which are used for generation of hydroelectric power.

This paper examines one such dam located in China. This paper considers the history of the Ertan dam outlining its purpose, the environmental impacts, organizations involved and current issues about it.An example is the Ertan dam. This dam is located in china and is used for generating electricity.

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Water Dams

There are many small and large dams around the world. They are used to retain water for use in some later time. Dams are constructed from various materials and in various designs. They can be shallow or deep depending on geographical conditions among other factors. Dams are mostly constructed by cooperation between the society and the construction teams which mainly includes civil engineers.

They are very useful to the society at large as their impacts directly affect the society’s operations and way of life. Despite the advantages of dams, they usually pose a very big danger in case they fail. There are many causes of dam failures and they range from human failure to matters beyond human capability.

Some of the human failures include poor maintenance and mistakes in design and construction while factors beyond human capability include extreme rainfall and landslides among others (Hartford, Baecher & CEA, 289). There are various types of dams: arch dams, buttress dams, gravity dams and embankment dams. The strength of arch dams is mainly dependent on the arch (Cracking dams).

The Ertan Dam

The Ertan dam was one of the largest dams constructed in China. It was one of results of the improvements of the economy of china. To ensure efficient construction processes were integrated, the construction was divided into three lots.The dam was to hold a large capacity of water as well as being used in the production of hydropower. It is one of the deepest dams in Asia. This dam was constructed from 1991 to 1999.

It gets its water from Yalong River in southern china. The dam structure is made of concrete and a lot of professional knowledge was used in its construction. The dam has a height of 240 meters and a crest length of 775 meters. The dam was constructed with an underground power-house which was to produce a lot of Hydro power (Tan, Wieland and Ren, 45). The implementation of the power house was in lot 3 of its construction.

Due to the high cost of construction, the project was funded by World Bank with 50% of the total project costbeing given by the bank. There were other institutions which were involved in financing the project: the state development investment company, Sichuan Investment Company, Sichuan Electric Power Company, State development bank of china and the domestic banks. The construction was expected to interfere with many aspects of social and economic activities, thus guidelines were set to reduce the effects to the public.

The construction and change in water system in the construction of Ertan dam had a direct impact on the environment. This led to the establishment of policies and practices that would control the pollution of the environment. This included treatment of sewage and other water wastes.

They were afterwards allowed to flow into the river. To reduce air pollution some methods were used. These included wet crushing in production to reduce the number of particles in the air, watering of roads and the use of machine which did not produce a lot of exhaust gasses.

Currently the Ertan dam plays a very crucial part in the production of Hydro power in china (Heggelund, 116). It has greatly facilitated the developments of china through power provision to the area around it which were previously hit by poverty. This has attracted foreign and local investors and the area is improving gradually.


The environmental benefits resulting from the dam construction are many. Thechanges in humidity have improved vegetation due to improved rainfall. The number of fish in the dam has also increased. Thus despite the negative effects and challenges met, the advantages outweigh the demerits.

Works Cited

Cracking dams: Simscience. Sim Science. Web. 13 March, 2011.

Hartford, Daniel., Baecher, George and CEA.Risk and uncertainty in dam safety. London: Thomas Telford. 2004. Print.

Heggelund Gorild. Environment and resettlement politics in China: the Three Gorges Project. Aldershot, United Kingdom: Ashgate Publishing. 2004. Print.

Tan John.,Wieland, Martin, andRen Qingwen. New developments in dam engineering: proceedings of the 4th International Conference on Dam Engineering, 18-20 October 2004, Nanjing China. London: Taylor & Francis, 2004. Print.