YICHANG, Oct. 7 (Xinhua) -- The water level in the Three Gorges reservoir reached the designated level of 156 meters on Tuesday after 10 consecutive days of water storage operation, improving navigation conditions on parts of China's longest river.
On Tuesday, the water level had risen about 10 meters since Sept. 28 when this year's water storage plan went into operation, said the developer of the massive water conservancy project, the China Three Gorges Project Corporation.
The upper reaches of the Yangtze River has seen 570 km of navigation route improved and a number of harbors increase their capacity for ship docking.
The raising measures came to a halt at about 8 a.m. on Tuesday when the water behind the dam reached 155.5 meters and the reservoir had stored more than 6 billion cubic meters of water.
Whether to raise the water to a higher level is subject to the study of general conditions of the dam area to ensure safety.
At 156 meters, the target water level for the second phase of the grand project, the reservoir could be fully functional in terms of flood-control, power generation and navigation control.
The project previously raised the water to the 156 meter mark twice in 2006 and 2007.
Launched in 1993, construction of the gigantic concrete structure of the Three Gorges dam was completed and began to hold water in May 2006. Previously, the reservoir's temporary cofferdams held water at a depth of around 135 to 139 meters.
The water level in the reservoir is expected to reach 175 meters in 2009 when the Three Gorges project is completed.
The Three Gorges Project, with a budget equivalent to 22.5 billion U.S. dollars, is a multi-functional water control system built at the upper and middle reaches of the Yangtze.
Its main works are a dam, a five-tier ship lock, as well as 26 hydropower turbo-generators.
The Three Gorges dam will have 14 turbo-generators on the left bank and 12 on the right. Combined, they will produce 84.7 billion kw of electricity annually.
There are plans to add six more turbines by 2012.
As of June, 1.24 million residents were relocated to make way for the dam construction.