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”
Posted on 10 December 2019
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.
Rising tides in the delta have major ramifications for flooding in subsiding and increasingly vulnerable cities, and river bank erosion. While sea level rise and climate change have received most attention in relation to the sinking and shrinking of the Mekong delta, the research shows that in the last 20 years, they have driven less than 5% of these trends.
Tiếp tục đọc “Gravest threat to Mekong delta today is sediment starvation not rising seas”
Analysis by David Brown on 3 December 2019
- 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.
Now there’s a consensus: an environmental disaster is inexorably unfolding over 75,000 square kilometers (29,000 square miles) of famously fertile lowlands in Vietnam and Cambodia, home to some 35 million farmers and fishermen. Major media are publishing melancholy obituaries for the Mekong that once was.
Tiếp tục đọc “Analysis: Floating solar power along the dammed-up Mekong River”
(River of no return: Mekong faces grim future)
Luke Hunt – Bình Yên Đông lược dịch
UCANews – August 21, 2019
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.
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?
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.
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
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
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.
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. Tiếp tục đọc “China’s Mekong Plans Threaten Disaster for Countries Downstream”
Laos’ Pak Beng dam, developed by China and supported by Thailand, has divided riparian nations over how best to manage the river’s resources
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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.