Today we left Zhengzhou driving across Henan province to Taocha, the first village to be displaced by the South North Water Transfer Project. Along the way we stopped at Xiaolangdi Dam, a landmark infrastructure project along the Yellow River. Construction of the dam began in 1994 and was completed in 2000. Consulting engineering firms were brought in from Italy, Germany, and France to design the dam due to limited technical capabilities of China at the time. It is an embankment/rock-fill construction, employing a red stone that regulates water leakage. The hydroelectric turbines within generate 5.1 billion kWh of electricity a year, but the dam also provides for flood control, ice control, dredging, and industrial/municipal water via the reservoir. A major challenge of the dam construction was how to deal with the masses of sediment flowing down the river, which is a primary cause for much of the damaging floods. A complex system of 15 large tunnels with an underground enables flushing of the sediment through controlled floods in the main River channel. Three silt-discharge tunnels also help to cope with additional silt in the flood season.
Heading back out on the road we pulled over to the Spring Temple Buddha. At 208m (including the pedestal) it is the tallest statue in the world, attracting numerous visitors. It is constructed of 3,300 tons of copper, 108 kg of gold, and 15,000 tons of special steel.