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The Legacy of the Three Gorges Dam

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Science  12 Aug 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6044, pp. 817
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6044.817

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Scientists predicted that when the world's largest hydropower project came online in 2003, it would be an environmental bane. The Three Gorges Dam on the Yangtze River has unfortunately lived up to expectations. For that reason China is embarking on a 10-year mitigation effort that sources say will cost $26.45 billion. The travails of the Three Gorges Dam are a cautionary tale for Laos and its Southeast Asian neighbors as they wrestle with the pros and cons of damming the lower Mekong River (see main text). Two consequences have proved worse than anticipated: deteriorating water quality and erosion. And the potential for spreading a snail-borne disease apparently wasn't even on planners' radar.