Missing Mekong waters rouse suspicions of China

JULY 25, 2019 / 6:17 AM / REUTERS

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. Continue reading “Missing Mekong waters rouse suspicions of China”


The Mekong river under THREAT

Milton Osborne

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. Continue reading “The Mekong river under THREAT”

Five things to know about the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation summit

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

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2018, 8:03am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 January, 2018, 2:57pm

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

Continue reading “Five things to know about the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation summit”

Is Mekong River set to become the new South China Sea for regional disputes?

The Beijing-led Lancang-Mekong Cooperation mechanism was set up to help ease tensions over development projects, but environmental groups are yet to be convinced

 South China Morning Post PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 02 January, 2018, 9:00pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 January, 2018, 12:09am

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.

Continue reading “Is Mekong River set to become the new South China Sea for regional disputes?”

China’s Mekong Plans Threaten Disaster for Countries Downstream


Beijing is building hydroelectric dams and dredging to allow bigger boats as worries of environmental devastation grow.

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. Continue reading “China’s Mekong Plans Threaten Disaster for Countries Downstream”

Death by dam for the Mekong

Laos’ Pak Beng dam, developed by China and supported by Thailand, has divided riparian nations over how best to manage the river’s resources

Chiang Khong, September 14, 2017 4:46 PM (UTC+8)

Water levels run low on the Mekong River. Photo: AFP Forum/Paritta Wangkiat

Water levels run low on the Mekong River. Photo: AFP Forum/Paritta Wangkiat

Letters from the Mekong: A Call for Strategic Basin-Wide Energy Planning in Laos

This issue brief—the third in Stimson’s “Letters from the Mekong” series — continues to challenge the prevailing narrative that the current rapid pace of dam construction on the Mekong River in mainland Southeast Asia will continue until the entire river is turned into a series of reservoirs. Certainly, the construction of even a few large dams will severely impact food security in the world’s most productive freshwater fishery and sharply reduce the delivery of nutrient-rich sediment needed to sustain agriculture, especially in Cambodia and Vietnam’s Mekong Delta. However, our team’s extensive research over a number of years, including site visits and meetings with regional policymakers, provides compelling evidence that not all of the planned dams will be built due to rising political and financial risks, including questions about the validity of current supply and demand projections in the greater Mekong region. As a consequence, we have concluded that it is not yet too late for the adoption of a new approach that optimizes the inescapable “nexus” tradeoffs among energy, export revenues, food security, and fresh water and protects the core ecology of the river system for the benefit of future generations.

In particular, through a continued examination of rising risks and local and regional responses to those risks, we believe that Laos and Cambodia will fall far short of current plans for more than 100 dams on the Mekong mainstream and tributaries. This reality will have particular implications for Laos, which seeks to become the “Battery of Southeast Asia” by setting the export of hydropower to regional markets as its top economic development priority.

In the case of Laos in particular, the reluctant recognition that its dream of damming the Mekong are in jeopardy may cause a reconsideration of its development policy options. Fewer Lao dams will mean that national revenue targets will not be met. Already the government has begun to make overtures for US and other donor assistance in managing the optimization of its hydropower resources. This is not surprising since Lao decision makers depend almost entirely on outside developers to build out its planned portfolio of dams under commercial build-own-operate-transfer (BOOT) concessions for export to neighboring countries. All of these dams are being constructed in a one-off, project-byproject manner with no prior input from the intergovernmental Mekong River Commission (MRC) or neighboring countries, and hence there is little practical opportunity for synergistic planning that could optimize the benefits of water usage on a basin-wide scale.

Because planners cannot see past the next project, it is impossible to determine to what extent the targets for the final power output of either Laos or the basin as a whole are achievable. Further, critical red lines of risk tolerance, particularly toward the environmental and social risks that impede dam construction, are unidentifiable because the government has little stake invested in the projects and derives few resources from the BOOT process to mitigate risk.

By 2020 roughly 30% of the Mekong basin’s power potential in Laos will be tapped by existing dams and those currently under construction. Beyond 2020 the prospect for completing the remaining 70 plus dams planned or under study by the Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines is unknowable. As Lao officials begin to realize they will not necessarily meet their development goals, there will still be time to transition to a basin-wide, strategic energy plan that meets projected revenue goals while minimizing impacts on key environmental flows through a combination of fewer dams and other non-hydropower sources of clean energy generation.

Dams, Drought and Disaster Along the Mekong River

By: Jennifer Rigby
Date: Tuesday, May 10, 2016

This article originally appeared in IRIN News.

A dry riverbed in Cambodia.

A dry riverbed in Cambodia.IRIN


internationalriver – The dry months before the monsoon rains arrive are often tough for Cambodian fishermen and farmers. But with rivers drying up and drinking water running out, conditions have rarely been as bad as they are now.

The current drought is linked to El Niño, which has been disrupting weather patterns around the world. But the harsh conditions today might only be foreshadowing far worse to come. Climate change will continue to affect the Mekong Basin region, while future droughts are expected to be exacerbated by a string of major hydropower dam projects.

Experts fear that the present crisis could become the new normal for Cambodia and its neighbours, which have also been hit hard by record temperatures and a long period of extremely dry weather.

“The combined effects of drought, climate change and dam building are pushing the resources of the Mekong Basin to the brink of disaster,” said Maureen Harris, Southeast Asia programme director of the river protection organisation, International Rivers. Continue reading “Dams, Drought and Disaster Along the Mekong River”

Vietnam, Laos Tackle South China Sea, Mekong in Bilateral Meeting

Last week, Laos’ newly elected president visited Vietnam in a bid to boost ties following leadership transitions in the two communist neighbors.

Bounnhang Vorachith, who clinched the post of Laos’ Communist Party chief back in January before being appointed president on April 20 by the National Assembly, made his official visit to Vietnam, which had also just finished going through its quinquennial Party Congress. The visit, which was his first overseas trip, lasted from April 25 to 27 and saw him meet with several top Vietnamese officials in Hanoi, including General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam Nguyen Phu Trong, President Tran Dai Quang, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc, and Vietnam’s first ever chairwoman of the National Assembly Nguyen Thi Kim Ngan. The Lao president then wrapped up his trip with a visit to Ho Chi Minh city. Continue reading “Vietnam, Laos Tackle South China Sea, Mekong in Bilateral Meeting”

Việt Nam: Biến đổi khí hậu, đập thủy điện sẽ ảnh hưởng thảm khốc đến khu vực Mê kông.

English – Vietnam: Climate change, dams will drastically impact Mekong region

Hàng triệu người có nguồn sinh kế dựa vào sông Mê Kong đang gặp rủi ro trước mối đe doạ kép của biến đổi khí hậu và các nhà máy thuỷ điện. Mặc dù nhà máy thuỷ điện thường được xem là một phần giải pháp chống biến đổi khí hậu, nhưng trong trường hợp này, thuỷ điện  thực tế lại là mối đe dọạ khẩn cấp hơn.

Khi phát triển kinh tế và cạnh tranh gây tổn hại tới thịnh vượng Continue reading “Việt Nam: Biến đổi khí hậu, đập thủy điện sẽ ảnh hưởng thảm khốc đến khu vực Mê kông.”

Facing Mekong Drought, China to Release Water From Yunnan Dam

In response to a request from Vietnam, China is discharging water from a dam in Yunnan.

Tác động thủy điện trên Mêkông: nghiêm trọng hay không đáng kể?

Anh Thi – Thứ Ba, 3/11/2015, 19:10 (GMT+7)

(TBKTSG Online) – Báo cáo “Nghiên cứu tác động của các công trình thủy điện trên dòng chính sông Mêkông” đã được Ủy ban Sông Mêkông Việt Nam (VNMC) cùng với các đơn vị tư vấn trình bày tại một phiên hội thảo đặc biệt ngày 21-10-2015 trong khuôn khổ Diễn đàn Nước, Lương thực và Năng lượng tiểu vùng Mêkông mở rộng diễn ra tại Phnôm Pênh (Campuchia) từ 21 đến 23-10-2015.

hội thảo tham vấn quốc gia về Báo cáo đánh giá tác động ngày 28-10-2015 tại Hà Nội. Nguồn: UB sông Mê-kông VN

Tiếp đó, VNMC cũng đã tổ chức hội thảo tham vấn quốc gia về Báo cáo đánh giá tác động ngày 28-10-2015 tại Hà Nội và ngày 30-10-2015 tại TPHCM. Theo VNMC, Báo cáo này dự kiến hoàn thành vào giữa tháng 11-2015 sẽ là nội dung chính trong báo cáo cuối cùng của Nghiên cứu với dự thảo đầu tiên sẽ được đưa ra tham vấn rộng rãi vào đầu tháng 12-2015. Hiện nay, VNMC cùng với các tư vấn đang lấy ý kiến trên trang web của dự án (https://wle-mekong.cgiar.org/study-on-the-impacts-of-mainstream-hydropower-on-the-mekong-river/) cho đến hết ngày 6-11-2015.
Continue reading “Tác động thủy điện trên Mêkông: nghiêm trọng hay không đáng kể?”