The Xiluodu Dam, when completed, will be the second largest hydropower project in China after the Three Gorges Dam. As part of a cascade of dams, including the Xiangjiaba (which is currently under construction), Baihetan, and Wudongde, the Xiluodu seeks to alleviate much of the sedimentation that has been rapidly accumulating behind the Three Gorges. Together with Xiangjiaba, it will generate 12.6 Gigawatts of energy, roughly equal to the Three Gorges’s maximum capacity expected in 2015. It will also displace an estimated 180,000 people, mostly from the city of Zhaotong.
All four dams are currently being constructed by the Three Gorges Project Corporation (CTGPC). And similar to the Three Gorges, the construction site of all four dams is located near an earthquake zone, which poses real dangers, such as landslides, to local inhabitants. Once completed, fertile farmlands will be flooded, and river fragmentation will threaten the already precarious migration of economically important fish.