4 Chinese Dams Hold-up all Water @ Mekong River

More dams more damages to Local People's livelihood on the Mekong
Delta :::

Lao Expert Blames Chinese Dams

Chinese dams on the upper Mekong river are blamed for causing water
levels to decline in the downstream areas in Central Laos.

In a rare criticism, a Lao government expert has blamed dams in China
for the latest drop in levels of the Mekong River, saying this is
impacting navigation along the key Southeast Asian artery and
destroying fishing resources.

Aside from the current dry spell in mainland Southeast Asia, Chinese
dams on the upper Mekong river are causing water levels to decline in
the downstream areas in Central Laos, including the Vientiane
provincial area, a water resources expert at the Lao Ministry of
Natural Resources told RFA.

“Chinese dams are part of [the problem] because they still cannot fill
up their reservoirs as expected," the expert said, speaking on
condition of anonymity.

He said that some parts of the river had dried up so much that one can
cross the river by foot. Some sections of the Mekong River are
believed to be drying up faster than at the same time last year.

China has dammed much of the upper Mekong, but few structures obstruct
the rest of the 3,000-mile (4,900-kilometer) river as it continues its
course through Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam.

Studies by the Stimson Center, a U.S.-based think tank, said four
completed Chinese dams "are already altering the river’s hydrology and
impeding the flow of nutrient-rich silt that sustains soil
productivity, nurtures fisheries, and keeps the sea at bay in the
Mekong Delta."

Mekong Delta

Two of the Chinese dams have some of the world’s largest reservoirs
and can store or release enough water to affect the flow of the river
as far as the Mekong Delta, more than 2,000 kilometers (1,242 miles)
to the south, the center said.

The Lao government expert's criticism at China is unusual. China's
influence on its small neighbor has been rising on the back of its
growing economic clout, underscoring links between the dominant
communist parties of the two countries.

"This year is unusual, but still less than the previous year. Let's
wait until May,” the expert said, explaining the dropping water level
problem in the Vientiane provincial area.

"[There have been] impacts on navigation from China to Vientiane, fish
habitat [have been] destroyed, and agriculture [has also been
affected] along the [river] bank," he said.

"In some parts of the river, people can cross by foot."

Sagging levels

The low Mekong water levels are not confined to the Vientiane's
provincial area alone.

The sagging levels on the river in Laos’s central Khammouane province
are also hindering the shipping trade.

Traders in Khammouane’s Hinboun district, which borders Thailand along
the Mekong, normally rely on the river to transport their goods.

“Last year the Mekong River did not dry up as quickly as it has this
year. It will dry more in April and May,” a Hinboun merchant said

“It is difficult to navigate because there are many sandbars.”

He feared no boats would be able to run in April and May, as now only
two routes remain navigable.

Last March, water levels fell in Laos's northern Bokeo province, with
local authorities warning that boats of 100 tons and above could not
navigate the Mekong between southern China, Laos, and Thailand.

Water in the Mekong River has also dried up in areas located in three
districts in northeast Thailand, the Bangkok Post newspaper said last
month, quoting local officials.

The areas where water has dried up are in the Muang, Tha Uthen, and
That Phanom districts.