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Mekong water level lowest in 50 years

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Mekong water level lowest in 50 years

supawadee wangsri

 

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BANGKOK, 20 July 2019 (NNT) - The Northeast is considered a drought-prone area as a result of its frequent lack of rain. Many provinces are again facing a water shortage. In Khon Kaen, more than 10 districts have been affected by the lack of rain. The water level in the Mekong river is at its lowest level in 50 years.

 

The fast falling and very low level of the Mekong river has revealed stanchions at the base of the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge. Pontoons and river boats must remain ashore because the water level is so low that they could run aground. Thousands of outcrops, both small and large, have emerged from the Mekong river for a distance of over five kilometers in Sangkhom district. Water that normally flows over the rocks has dried up leaving only small puddles where people can safely walk. As a result, only thalwegs that are adjacent to the Lao PRD are used for travelling.

 

In Nong Khai, the water level at 80 centimeters, is 11.4 meters below the Mekong river bank. In the same period last year, the water was 150 centimeters high. The water level in the Mekong river is at its lowest level in 50 years.

 

The level of water in the Mekong River in Bueng Kan has also continuously declined. The water level has been measured at three meters. This is affecting river traffic in the Mekong. Small boats that commute between Thailand and Laos need to be extra careful and avoid the sand bars. However, cargo ships and ferries are mostly unaffected. ABC Laos News has advised that the Xayaburi hydro-electric dam of Lao PDR, which is in the process of experimenting with electric generators opens and closes its water gates as required, and is currently releasing water into the Mekong River between July 15 – 29. This may cause the water level in the Mekong River to rise rapidly. The public is advised to move any essential property near the river to a safe place.

 

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-- © Copyright nnt 2019-07-21
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Aquatic life faces extinction as upstream dams leave Mekong River dry 

By Pratch Rujivanarom
The Nation

 

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Local fishermen in Bueng Kan’s Bung Khla district are inspecting the dry riverbed of Mekong River for trapping fish on Friday. Credit: Buengkanraknok

 

The Mekong River’s extremely low level of water caused by upstream hydropower dam projects has triggered the death of masses of fish and heightened the risk of mass extinction of aquatic life in the entire Mekong River Basin, environmental experts highlighted on Friday.

 

They said that the ongoing loss of biodiversity in the Mekong Basin is posing a major threat to food security and wellbeing of hundreds of millions of people in the region. 

 

Narit Art-harn, a representative of locals in Bueng Kan’s Bung Khla district, revealed that the level of the Mekong this week was lower than the lowest during the dry season, even though mid-July is normally the rainy season and the river should be full and even overflowing. 

 

“We are facing an extraordinary situation, because instead of the seasonal floods that we usually face this time of year, we are now encountering a severe drought, which is bad for both the people and the ecosystem,” Narit said. 

 

He said that even though fishermen in Bueng Kan were able to catch more fish due to the very low level of water, many of the fish they caught have bellies full of eggs, because this is the breeding season for many of the species in the Mekong. 

 

Hence, he said, he is deeply concerned that this might be the last season for the fishermen to get an abundant catch because these fish might soon be extinct. 

 

“The extremely low level of water is killing these fish, because it is preventing them from entering tributaries to lay eggs in flooded forests and swamps, which means an entire generation of fish will vanish,” he emphasised. 

 

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Fish are "cooked" alive on the shallow hot ponds left on Mekong riverbed in Nong Khai

Credit: Bell Supattra In

 

He also called on the Thai government to take more proactive steps to protect people living along the banks of the Mekong River and its tributaries from the transboundary impacts caused by hydropower dams in China and Laos. 

 

Chainarong Setthachua, an academic from Maha Sarakham University, said many fish were found “cooked” in the hot water of ponds in the Mekong riverbed in Nong Khai’s Sangkhom district after the water level receded due to a recent reduction in water discharged from China’s Jinghong Dam and a test-run operation at Laos’ Xayaburi Dam. 

 

Nonn Panitvong, founder of Siamensis.org and prominent freshwater fish expert, insisted that fish in the Mekong River was the most important food security for people living across the Mekong Basin.

 

Hence, he said, that by ignoring the serious loss of biodiversity for the sake of hydropower dams, the governments in the region are trading ecosystems that sustain tens of millions of people for the wealth of a handful of investors. 

 

“When they [the authorities and investors] build new hydropower dams, they claim energy stability as the reason, but in the end, people cannot eat electricity. Fish and vegetables from the river are actually our food,” Nonn stressed. 

 

Niwat Roikaew, chief of Chiang Rai’s environmental conservation group Rak Chiang Khong, said that he will send a petition detailing the Mekong River’s bizarre water levels and other impacts China’s upstream hydropower projects are having on people to the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok soon. 

 

“I want a productive discussion based on academic information with Chinese authorities to mitigate the adverse impact these hydropower dams are having on the ecosystems and the people of the Mekong River Basin,” Niwat said. 

 

“If China wants to be a superpower, it must improve its standards of environmental protection on all its projects, otherwise negative feedback from harmful projects will affect its reputation globally.”

 

Source: https://www.nationthailand.com/news/30373286

 

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-- © Copyright The Nation Thailand  2019-07-21

 

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Thalweg - never heard that word before. I wonder where the writer dredged that up from.

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12 hours ago, rooster59 said:

Mekong water level lowest in 50 years

Wait till the Chinese have built all the dams, this will be normal !

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"Fish are "cooked" alive on the shallow hot ponds left on Mekong riverbed in Nong Khai."

 

I hope my missus doesn't get wind of this or we'll be driving up there for free soup!  😉

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On 7/20/2019 at 7:00 PM, YetAnother said:

Think all those Chinese dams might have something to do with it? 

Water will be the currency of the future. I would rather have a glass of water than a litre of petrol that would allow for me to drive to another area only to find that there is no water... instead only false hopes.

 

Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia need to present a case to the UN that they are unfairly being impacted by the Chinese. Yep, I know, nothing will happen, but at least the grievance will be on record.

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