Wang Jingquan, director of the flood control and drought relief office affiliated with the Yangtze River Water Resources Committee, told China Daily that damming up the river has aggravated the drought by pinching off water flow to lower reaches.
But another official said such assertions are groundless. Yan Fei, director of the China Three Gorges Corporation's press office, said statistics show the dam's increased discharge of water has helped to relieve the drought.
Other parts of China are suffering from the opposite of a drought.
Heavy rains in southern China caused a massive landslide this past weekend. More than 22 quarry workers were buried alive in a dormitory near Luojiang in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. The death toll now stands at 12 at least. One worker is known to have survived.
"We first saw smoke rising up in the valley, then the rocks and mud gushing out. The dormitory was soon buried underneath," said Chen Yuanliang, a villager who witnessed the landslide, in People's Daily.
The landslide covered an area equivalent to two basketball courts with about 15 feet of mud and debris, according to He Qishi, deputy chief engineer of the region's general geological environment monitoring station.
IMAGE 1: A cargo ship with 2,500 tons of steel bars ran aground at the Chongqing section of the Yangtze River in the southwest China's Chongqing Municipality on May 3, 2011. (Xinhua/Chen Cheng/Corbis).
IMAGE 2: The reservoir of the Three Gorges Dam (Wikimedia Commons).
IMAGE 3: A cargo vessel sails in Nanchang section of Ganjiang River, east China's Jiangxi Province, April 28, 2011. Major rivers in Jiangxi, including the Ganjiang River, the second largest tributary of the Yangtze River, and the Fuhe River, which flows into Poyang Lake, recorded their lowest historical level of the same period on Wednesday. Since late March, the drought has affected 6.52 million mu (about 434,667 hectares) of paddy fields in Jiangxi, where precipitation hit a record low in the past few months of this year (Xinhua/Zhou Mi/Corbis).