Threat to the Mekong River is Critical, Critics Say

Asia Sentinel –

It is starting to appear that nothing can save the 800,000 sq. km Mekong River basin, which provides vital sustenance for as many as 100 million people, from environmental depredation from dams all along the 4,350 km length of the mighty river that feeds it.

Over the objections of the Mekong River Commission, the Laotian government in July committed to the construction of a fifth dam on the river, making the river’s flows and levels more unpredictable and threatening the fish and wildlife on which the population depend.

From record lows in June and July to major flooding in parts of the basin in August and September, hydropower dams have exacerbated the impacts on the river and people. Large-scale dams, especially those planned for the Mekong mainstream, are a significant cause of – not the answer to – the Mekong crisis. 

As Asia Sentinel reported on July 15, climate change and the upstream dams on the river threaten the 125 km-long Tonle Sap, the Cambodian lake that is vital to the wellbeing of the country. Low water threatened the annual reversal of the flow of the river through the lake, which puts 11,000 to 16,000 sq km under water, endangering globally important colonies of endangered waterbirds and fish. The water levels are the lowest seen in 100 years.

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