Mekong Takes On Bluish Tinge As Water Levels Again Fall

The Diplomat

Water levels in the Mekong River have fallen to “worrying” levels since the start of this year, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) said last week, as the region heads into a third straight year of below average rainfall.

In a statement on February 12, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) said that drought conditions, flow changes upstream, hydropower operations in the Mekong tributaries, and outflow restrictions from the Jinghong Dam in China were responsible for the fall.

“There have been sudden rises and falls in water levels immediately downstream of Jinghong and further down to Vientiane, which has been challenging for authorities and communities to prepare for and respond to possible impacts,” Dr Winai Wangpimool, director of the MRC Secretariat’s Technical Support Division, said in the statement.

The announcement followed reports last week of the Mekong running along the border between Thailand and Laos, usually a murky brown color, had taken on a bluish tinge. According to the MRC, this unusual appearance was a result of low flows, a slow drop in river sediments, and the presence of algae on the river bottom. The phenomenon was previously observed in late 2019.

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