Downstream Impact of Mekong Dams

Via The Cambodia Mirror, an in-depth look at the impact that the construction of hydro-electric dams along the Mekong River will have upon on the environment and on the life of millions of people living along the Mekong River, especially countries along the lower Mekong River region.  As the report notes:

“…Experts said that at present, among the 11 hydro-electric dams believed to be under construction in Cambodia and Laos, two hydro-electric dams are planed to be constructed in Cambodia. Companies from China, Siam [Thailand], Yuon [Vietnam], and Malaysia are involved in these developments, but China is most heavily involved by controlling four big projects. This number adds to the eight hydro-electric dams constructed by China or planned to be constructed in the upper regions of the Mekong River.

“Environmental and fish experts claimed that the construction of hydro-electric dams can change the flow of water, and they warned that the environmental impacts resulting from these constructions will appear on a large scale, which affects the life of people and destroys the spawning places of fish to lay their eggs, and the habitat of some important fish species.

“A regional director of the World Fish Center from an international organization based in Cambodia said that hydro-electric dams can block the movement of fish during the dry season between the low lying Mekong River basin and the upper Mekong River. That regional director added that actually, those dams form obstacles for the movement of fish; many species of fish move from the Tonle Sap River and from some flooded areas to the Mekong River and to branches of the river at the upper areas of Cambodia and Laos, some of them can move up to the north of Laos.

“Environmental experts mentioned that China had already operating three hydro-electric dams built across the Mekong River, and it is constructing and planning to construct five more dams. Cambodia had expressed concerns over the impacts of the construction of hydro-electric dams in China on the environment of the countries in the lower areas of the Mekong River. China constructed these hydro-electric dams without discussing it with the low-lying countries, and whenever there were protests, China always claimed that it had thought about the impacts in advance already.

“Among the hydro-electric dams planned to be built in Laos, one is located next to the Lbak Khon area of Cambodia, and this leads to agitated discussions and protests from environmental and fish experts, because this project will have serious impacts on the breeding and movement of fish and fish yields in Cambodia. According to the plan, this project will provide about more than 300 megawatt of electricity, which is small compared to the severely negative impacts. The vice-chairperson of the Cambodia National Mekong Committee, Mr. Sin Niny, told foreign reporters that the low-lying countries are waiting for results from that study. Environmental officials criticized that the construction of hydro-electric dams across the Mekong River in Laos will seriously affect the environment in Cambodia. Together with this concern, Cambodia is studying to construct a hydro-electric dam at Sambo in Kratie with investments from China; and the planning research for this project is expected to be finished in 2010.

“Environmental experts advised that countries at the lower areas of the Mekong River that need energy could decide to form a network to produce and distribute electricity in the region, and let the upper Mekong countries build hydro-electric dams in areas that do not affect the movement of fish much, and the energy produced should be distributed to other countries, because the Mekong River is the collective property of countries lying along the 4,000 km of the Mekong River. Experts suggested that the construction of a hydro-electric dam by Laos near the Cambodian-Laotian border, and the plan of Cambodia to construct several dams ought to be cancelled in order to avoid the impacts on the natural environment of both countries.

“As seen on maps, the Mekong River originates from the Tibetan plateau of China and extends over more than 4,000 km. It flows through the five countries of Burma, Laos, Siam [Thailand], Cambodia, and Yuon [Vietnam]. The Mekong River is among the four longest rivers of the word, it provides many fish to support the life of millions of people living along this river. In contrast, the construction of big hydro-electric dams in China as well as in Laos can affect the natural environment of this river seriously, and Cambodia will become a country which suffers the most, because Cambodia does not have any plan to prevent the impact from the construction of hydro-electric dams on the Mekong River.”

This entry was posted on Friday, May 8th, 2009 at 10:30 am and is filed under Cambodia, China, Laos, Mekong River, Vietnam.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

Comments are closed.

© 2024 Water Politics LLC .  'Water Politics', 'Water. Politics. Life', and 'Defining the Geopolitics of a Thirsty World' are service marks of Water Politics LLC.