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Mekong River water level hits record low for second year
Linh Pham 16:42, 2020/12/29
The situation prompts request for immediate release of water by storage operators and less use by instigators.

Water level in the Mekong River has hit record low for the second consecutive year, the Mekong River Commission has warned.

 Part of Mekong River. Photo: Ben Davies/Lightrocket/Getty

The commission said Mekong countries should implement drought plans and request that water storage operators release more water and instigators use less of it, the Chiang Rai Times reported.

Accordingly, the Mekong River Commission has urged China and lower Mekong countries to share more data on hydropower dam operations with an aim to better regulate the water level of Mekong that is the longest river in Southeast Asia.

The commission attributes the low water level to two years of reduced rainfall and the operations of 13 Mekong hydropower dams (including two in Laos and 11 in China) as well as dams on Mekong tributaries in Laos. The Mekong also flows through part of Myanmar.

A recent report by the commission showed that the low flow could have severe impacts on communities in its member countries, mainly Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam due to loss of fisheries and irrigation potential.

“We call on the six Mekong countries to increase their sharing of Mekong River data and information. Above all on their dam and water infrastructure operations in a transparent and speedy manner with the MRC,” said An Pich Hatda, chief executive officer of the MRC’s Secretariat.

The report addressed a second year of delayed seasonal water flow into Cambodia’s Tonle Sap, Southeast Asia’s largest lake, which has severely disrupted fishing and threatened the food supply of more than a million people.

In another move, top leaders from Cambodia, Lao, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam have expressed concerns over severe drought in the region over the last years when they gathered for the 9th Ayeyawady-Chao Phraya-Mekong Economic Cooperation Strategy (ACMECS) Summit held on December 9.

The drought, mostly in 2019 and 2020, have resulted in the record low of water level on Mekong River, causing breaks in the food supply chain, affecting the ecosystem, agriculture, and aquaculture in the sub-region, reported at the virtual summit hosted by Cambodia.

Participating countries urge joint efforts for sustain management of Mekong River and smart agriculture against climate change.

National Geographic said a combination of drought and controversial upstream water politics is setting up Southeast Asia for potential disaster.

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