The Eyes on Earth report, Monitoring the Quantity of Water Flowing Through the Upper Mekong Through Natural (Unimpeded) Conditions, published this week by Pact, shows that deviations from normal flow patterns began to occur with the operation of the first large hydropower dam on the Upper Mekong mainstream in 2012. Using satellite data on the Upper Mekong from 1992 to 2019, matched against daily measurements of river height downstream at Chiang Saen, Thailand, the research shows unusual fluctuations in recent years. The report concludes that cooperation between China and the Lower Mekong countries to simulate the natural flow cycle of the Mekong could potentially improve low-flow conditions and benefit all communities in the Mekong River Basin.
A satellite image on January 3, 2020, shows Xayaburi Dam sitting astride the Mekong River, which has turned blue due to drought and other factors reducing sediment, near the town of Xayaboury, Laos. Photo by Reuters.
Hydropower dams on the Mekong River are expected to reduce Vietnam’s GDP by 0.3 percentage points due to their impact on fisheries and agriculture.
Even if China releases water from its hydropower dams on the Mekong River, it might not reach the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, experts warn.
A farmer in Long Phu District in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang holds rice plants that have all died because of drought, January 22, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Huy Phong.
Releasing water is a task China has to do periodically as its dams cannot keep holding back water, and given the increasing level of ice melt that raises sea level, it is a must for China to save its land from salt intrusion, Le Anh Tuan, deputy head of the Climate Change Institute at Can Tho University, said.
China’s banks supporting BRI projects should apply environmental risk-management policies and oversight, says Divya Narain
China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is intended to catalyse the economies of countries around the globe.
Yet BRI projects overlap some of the most ecologically fragile places on earth. The multi-trillion-dollar initiative – to build transcontinental networks of roads, railways and ports, studded with dams, mines, power plants, and solar and wind farms – has its environmental impacts. These include air and water pollution, soil contamination and erosion, habitat and wildlife loss. Tiếp tục đọc “Banks need to take Belt and Road environmental risks seriously”→
New research shows that the increasing vulnerability of the Mekong delta to floods, salt intrusion and erosion is caused by insufficient sediment in the river not climate-induced rise in sea levels.
Published in the journal Nature Scientific Reports, the findings of the Rise and Fall Project at Utrecht University are clear: the growing threat to the Mekong Delta – and the communities, cities, rice fields and biodiversity that depend on it – posed by higher tides and salt intrusion is almost entirely due to the loss of river sediment because of upstream dams and sand mining in the delta.
This year, the first floating solar power generating system in Southeast Asia was deployed on a reservoir in Vietnam.
Floating solar power systems are being written into the energy master plans of Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and the Philippines as well as Vietnam, and into the calculations of investment banks.
The technology presents an alternative to additional hydroelectric power projects.
For two decades or more, alarms have been sounding for the Mekong Delta. It’s being hammered by climate change, by a proliferation of upstream dams, by unsustainable and inappropriate farming practices, by greed and political expediency. The punishment the delta’s taking has been well reported, first in scholarly papers, then in specialized publications and appeals by NGOs.
Hình chụp ngày 14 tháng 4 cho thấy một du khách đi ngang đụn cát hay “Toppathatsay” trên bờ sông Mekong đánh dấu năm mới ở Lào hay “Pi Mai” tổ chức ở Luang Prabang. [Ảnh: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP]
Một lần nữa, sông Mekong xuống thấp đến mức kỷ lục, đe dọa việc sản xuất hoa màu, ngư nghiệp và sinh kế của 70 triệu người giữa việc phát triển thái quá và những báo động tàn khốc. Nhưng hạn hán năm nay, lần thứ hai trong vòng 3 năm, có thể đánh dấu một bước ngoặt và một tương lai đen tối.
BAN NONG CHAN, Thailand (Reuters) – By this time of year, the Mekong River should have been rising steadily with the monsoon rains, bringing fishermen a bounty of fat fish.
Instead, the river water in Thailand has fallen further than anyone can remember and the only fish are tiny.
Scientists and people living along the river fear the impact of the worst drought in years has been exacerbated by upstream dams raising the prospect of irreversible change on the river that supports one of Southeast Asia’s most important rice-growing regions. Tiếp tục đọc “Missing Mekong waters rouse suspicions of China”→
Even if no dams are built on the mainstream below China, the cascade to which it is committed will ultimately have serious effects on the functioning of the Mekong once the dams are used to control the river’s flow. This will be the case because the cascade will:
• alter the hydrology of the river and so the current ‘flood pulse’, the regular rise and fall of the river on an annual basis which plays an essential part in the timing of spawning and the migration pattern. This will be particularly important in relation to the Tonle Sap in Cambodia, but will have an effect throughout the river’s course;
• block the flow of sediment down the river which plays a vital part both in depositing nutrients on the agricultural regions flooded by the river and also as a trigger for fish migration — at present well over 50% of the river’s sediment comes from China;
• at least initially cause problems by restricting the amount of flooding that takes place most importantly in Cambodia and Vietnam; and
• lead to the erosion of river banks.
So China’s dam-building plans are worrying enough, but the proposed new mainstream dams would pose even more serious concerns. Those built at sites higher upstream would cause the least damage to fish stocks, but if, as currently seems possible, the most likely dams to be built would be at Don Sahong and Sambor the costs to fish stocks could be very serious. This is because unanimous expert opinion judges that there are no ways to mitigate the blocking of fish migration that would occur if these dams are constructed. None of the suggested possible forms of mitigation — fish ladders, fish lifts, and alternative fish-passages — are feasible for the species of fish in the Mekong and the very large biomass that is involved in their migratory pattern. Fish ladders were tried and failed at the Pak Mun dam on one of the Mekong’s tributaries in Thailand in the 1990s. Tiếp tục đọc “The Mekong river under THREAT”→
TĐH: We don’t hear discussion on the VNese media about this China-pushed five-year development plan at all. I wonder if Vietnam will have a public discussion about this plan, or whoever attending the LMC summit will just simply approve the plan on behalf of Vietnam?
scmp: Five-year development plan, including construction of hydropower dams, is expected to top agenda at Mekong River nations’ conference in Cambodia
When China and the leaders of nations along the Mekong River meet on Wednesday at the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation summit in Cambodia, a top item will be mapping out a five-year development plan that would include building hydropower dams and other projects for the region – pointing to its importance in China’s ambitious belt and road infrastructure plan.
But while the cooperation mechanism was created to help ease tension over development projects, environmentalists remain unsatisfied.
Concern is growing that the potential for causing ecological damage will make the Mekong a flashpoint for China and Southeast Asia’s territorial disputes – effectively creating a new South China Sea.
Amid the backdrop of the river’s importance in connecting Europe through Southeast Asia and beyond in the grand infrastructure programme launched by President Xi Jinping, Chinese delegation leader Premier Li Keqiang will be looking to bolster China’s influence in the Mekong region as he faces his counterparts from Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos and Myanmar.
Here are five key things to know about the summit and the significance of the Mekong River:
1. The river’s significance for China and Southeast Asia
Foreign ministers from the six countries through which the Mekong flows met in southwestern China last month to approve a draft of a five-year development plan for the river. But as state leaders prepare to finalise the proposal at a meeting in Cambodia later this month, environmental groups have expressed concern over what it could mean for Southeast Asia’s longest waterway.
BANGKOK — Thirty million people depend for a living on the Mekong, the great Asian river that runs through Southeast Asia from its origins in the snowfields of Tibet to its end in the delta region of Vietnam, where it fertilizes one of the world’s richest agricultural areas. It’s the greatest freshwater fishery on the planet, second only to the Amazon in its riparian biodiversity. If you control its waters, then you control much of the economy of Southeast Asia. Tiếp tục đọc “China’s Mekong Plans Threaten Disaster for Countries Downstream”→
Water levels run low on the Mekong River. Photo: AFP Forum/Paritta Wangkiat
The sleepy town of Pak Beng, best known as a stopover for slow boats connecting the Laos-Thailand border to the ancient Lao capital of Luang Prabang, will be transformed later this year by the launch of a third major hydro-dam on the lower Mekong River. Tiếp tục đọc “Death by dam for the Mekong”→