The water level of the Three Gorges Dam, the world's largest power station in terms of installed capacity, had dropped to an elevation of 150.29 meters by May 30, releasing flood control capacity of roughly 19.6 billion cubic meters.
The emptied storage is equivalent to the capacity of more than 1,300 West Lakes, a renowned freshwater lake in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province whose surface area measures 6.4 km².
The decreasing water level has gradually uncovered tidal flats along the three Gorges Reservoir and affected waterways in the reservoir area. Inspection and supervision of these waterways have been strengthened to guarantee the navigational safety of vessels while ensuring the water level drawdown target is achieved.
Due to the lowering of the water level, the Three Gorges Dam’s double-way five-stage ship-lock system has been reduced to four stages, meaning ships just need to pass through five locks, which takes about 3 hours and 10 minutes, a reduction of 50 minutes on the previous travel time.
With a total capacity of 39.3 billion cubic meters, the Three Gorges Reservoir is designed to maintain a 30-meter flood control boundary of between 175 and 145 meters in elevation and a flood control capacity of 22.15 billion m3. According to established operational procedures, the water level of the Three Gorges Dam will drop to 145 meters by June 10.