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Release: May 18, 2000

UI hydraulic engineers travel to China May 20-June 3

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- China's controversial Three Gorges Dam will be one of the highlights of a scheduled 15-day Iowa Institute of Hydraulic Research study abroad program in China for 23 faculty, students and young professionals who will depart from the Eastern Iowa Airport on the morning of Saturday, May 30.

Consisting of a series of lectures and tours and concluding with written reports, the program is formally known as the University of Iowa International Perspectives in Water Resources Planning study abroad program. This year, participants will focus on historical, cultural, social, economic, ethical, environmental and political conditions that impact water resources projects in China. Previous tours have been to India in 1998 and Taiwan and Japan in 1999. Next year's course will focus on Eastern Europe.

In the case of the Three Gorges Dam project, students will observe progress being made on one of the largest and most controversial projects of its kind. Proponents of the project, including Chinese government officials, have pointed to its potential to control floods, generate electric power and bring maritime commerce to China's interior. Opponents have criticized it on environmental grounds, noting that it will alter the landscape, inundate scores of historical sites and cause the relocation of an estimated two million people from upstream towns and villages along the Yangtze River. According to Marlene Janssen, IIHR administrative associate, "The reason that IIHR initiated and supports this intense learning experience is to give young engineers and other professionals first-hand knowledge of local issues that affect water resources decisions in other countries. This unique experience better prepares them for their careers."

The program is sponsored by IIHR and the University of Iowa College of Engineering in collaboration with Wuhan University of Hydraulic and Electrical Engineering, China Tsinghua University, Beijing, China Hehai University, Nanjing, China. The course will be conducted by Professors Jacob Odgaard, IIHR and department of civil and environmental engineering; You-Kuan Zhang, IIHR and the department of geoscience; and Lea VanderVelde, College of Law.

For more information, see the program's web site at