the Yalong

yalong, dadu & min rivers

major feeders for the Yangtse

The Yalong River is known in Tibetan as Nyagchu, and in Chinese as Yalong Jiang. It is the largest tributary feeding the Yangtse. It is sourced in Amdo (Qinghai), on the Tibetan plateau, and flows over 1300 km through Sichuan to its confluence with the Yangtse close to northern Yunnan Province. Along the way, the Yalong passes through ethnic-Tibetan regions.

The Yalong is among the most heavily dammed rivers in the world. The map below will give some idea of how it qualifies for this dubious distinction.


Jinping-I Dam

Jinping-I Dam on the Yalong River has a projected wall-height of 305 metres, breaking the 300-metre mark—and making it the tallest arch dam in the world upon completion of construction in 2014. Currently, the world's tallest concrete arch dam is Xiaowan Dam on the Mekong, with wall-height 292 metres. Around 2015, another dam will eclipse Jinping-1 for wall-height: this is Shuangjiangkou Dam on the Dadu River, with a projected wall-height of 312 metres. To give an idea of scale: back in 1889, the original Eiffel Tower was the first man-made structure built to stand over 300 metres (just a tad over that height). From 1889 to 1930, the Eiffel Tower held the record for the world's tallest freestanding structure. Jinping-I Dam has a capacity of 3600 MW, and estimated reservoir length is 100 km. Just downstream is Jinping-2, another colossal dam with capacity of 4800 MW.

Jinping-I Dam
28 10 57 N, 101 37 50 E
Jinping I Dam, Under Construction
Yalong River, Sichuan
Wall Height: 305 metres
Capacity: 3600 MW

Things are going to get worse for these rivers. Much worse. The Yalong-Dadu-Min river system is part of plans for a massive water diversion project. The sketchmap below shows plans for diverting water from the Yangtse (Dri Chu) via the Yalong (Nya Chu) to the Yellow River (Ma Chu). Another branch would divert water from the Dadu River to the Yellow River.

What is transpiring here is a scary preview of the incredible damage that could be wreaked on other rivers sourced in Tibet.

Tibetan Water Diversion Sketch-Map
Click map to enlarge

Yalong River - before
BEFORE dams: Click map to enlarge

map of Yalong dams
Click map to enlarge

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