At least one 21st Century war will be fought over water
April 23, 2010

USA Today carries the story of a massive dam in southwestern China that affects the flow of water to four other countries downstream. The dam is reportedly as tall as a 66-story skyscraper, and it has the obvious power to hold back a tremendous amount of water for China's use. Whether it's intended for such purposes or not, it could undoubtedly be used as a weapon of war against China's neighbors downstream, either by withholding water resources in a time of drought, or through deliberate flooding of regions downstream. And the potential for catastrophic failure is self-evident: Construction, engineering, and manufacturing processes in China are well-known to fall far short of equivalent standards in the United States. Widespread disregard in China for standards for materials like cast iron and concrete have led to well-publicized building failures and serious doubts about products exported to the United States. Using products of questionable quality to construct a dam far larger than has been tested in countries with considerably more experience in modern dam-building seems like a recipe for trouble.

Even in the absence of mechanical problems, the construction of a dam like this shows just how valuable water resources really are to the nations of the world -- even in places we don't normally think of as being dry. As the world's population continues to rise, placing ever more stress on local water supplies, it is virtually certain that wars will be fought over water in our century.

When it comes to dam construction, stainless steel water-control gates from a reliable American manufacturer like Golden Harvest offer engineers, contractors, and people living downstream a degree of confidence that China's neighbors downstream in the Mekong Valley don't have.

April 2010
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last revised April 2010