China’s ‘Golden Waterway’ Turns Blood Red

Those who believe a zombie apocalypse is upon us will be having a field day with this story. China‘s Yangtze River, also known as “The Golden Waterway,” has ironically turned blood red. While mostly occurring around the industrial city of Chongquing, the incident has been noted in other areas, as well.

According to the Herald Sun, Chinese officials are speculating pollution is to blame. However, others say the Yangtze is too large and fast flowing for bacteria contamination to create a “red tide” effect.

Last year, the country experienced a similar incident on the Jian River in Luoyang. Illegal dye workshops dumping their dye into the city’s storm drain were found to be the cause. This year’s mystery, however, is yet to be solved.

For more details and to see images of the event itself, check out the video above.

Dam it, People Move!

There was an interesting expose on China’s Three Gorges Dam in yesterday’s WSJ (Europe ed.). It looks like up to 4.8 million more people might have to move from the Yangtze River valley because of the dam.

The massive $25B power project, completed last May, has already displaced approximately 1.4 million people, as their land has been submerged because the area behind the dam has filled. When I was there in 2005, the water level was about 132 meters (435 ft.), and it’s now at 157m, and it’s expected to hit 175m in 2009. The reservoir is 640km (400 miles) long (about 1/10th the length of the whole river).

Obviously, the dam is important to China, which needs the power for its growing economy. The dam provides ten times the electricity of the Hoover Dam.

Some frightening stats from the article:

  • 60% of the new shoreline is too steep to farm.
  • the water is moving so slowly behind the dam that the port of Chongqing (seen at right on a “sunny” day) is expected to silt over in ten years. (This is a big deal, considering the size and economic importance of that city, with an estimated at 55 million inhabitants in that economic “municipality.”)
  • the dam is making the local weather even more foggy and humid than before. (ouch.)
  • fish populations are dwindling because of disrupted river flows. (I didn’t see a single living bird, duck, goose, swan, or fish during my days on the Yangtze, so I’m not too surprised.)