Jul 30 2012

A Few Good Reads (7/30/12): China Flooding and Three Gorges Dam

This week: Flooding at Three Gorges and more on the deluge further north at Beijing and Tianjin, wrestling with the disaster conspiracy complex related to the Russian floods, and the single step design-build method that the Corps is pursuing.

Three Gorges Dam experiences year’s biggest flood (xinhuanet)

Water inflow into the dam area is expected to hit 70,000 cubic meters per second [2.5M cfs] when the flood peak arrives between Tuesday night and Wednesday morning, the statement said.

It said the force of the flood has far exceeded that of the most devastating Yangtze flood in recent memory, which caused a large amount of damage in 1998. The flow rate for that year’s flood was over 50,000 cubic meters per second.

‘China’s Katrina’: Second City Flooded; Corruption, Incompetence Blamed (nhpr)

There was flooding Thursday in Tianjin, a city of 6 million, during a downpour there. Even the state-controlled Xinhua news agency couldn’t ignore what was happening. “The downpour has paralyzed traffic in downtown Tianjin, drowning many roads. Dozens of vehicles were stranded on Baidi road in Nankai district after their engines died in the flood,” it reports. “Many pedestrians complained they had to trek in knee-deep water. In some sections of Xianyang Street, flood water was waist deep.”

Beijing Flooding in Pictures (Atlantic Cities)

While this is the worst example in recent times, floods have become relatively common in China’s big cities, including Beijing. Though extreme rainfall is certainly a major factor, many have also laid blame on inadequate drainage systems and infrastructure. This article from Xinhua notes that much of the city’s infrastructure is incapable of handling large rain events, and is further hindered by blockages in pipes. A recent investigation found that up to half of the city’s drainage pipes are clogged by sediment that fills between 10 and 50 percent of the pipes’ diameters.


Are All Disasters a Conspiracy (Russian Floods) (The River Seers)

Is it true that victims of natural disasters often believe they were victims of an evil plot? The theme of “Flooded residents direct anger at reservoir operators” was one that I heard commonly this year, such as during the Queensland Floods and in the Manila Typhoons. I heard stories in the Philippines of citizens believing a dam was flooding their city, an idea easily refuted by looking on a map and noticing that the dam was over in the next valley and had no control over the local rivers.

Industry Protests Increased Use of Single-Step Design-Build by Army Corps (ENR)

What is clear is that the added expense of single-step competitions—with some firms saying they’ve spent hundreds of thousands of dollars per year on proposal expenses alone—is keeping many contractors and designers from competing on single-step jobs altogether.

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