Wednesday October 11, 2023

The Straits Times

China and South-east Asian countries through which the Mekong River flows should share water storage and hydropower operations data, a study said, with water levels in the river at historic lows due to climate change and human factors.

The Mekong River’s flow dropped to the lowest levels in more than six decades from 2019 to 2021, according to the intergovernmental Mekong River Commission (MRC), impacting agriculture, fishery and livelihoods for more than 60 million people in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam.

A new joint study released on Monday between the MRC and the China-founded Lancang-Mekong Water Resources Cooperation Centre attributed factors such as rainfall patterns, evaporation rates and topography for the decline, but also cited human activities such as infrastructure development and water management as contributing to the river’s dry conditions.

The study recommended “real-time sharing of storage levels and hydropower operations” and enhanced notifications of sudden changes in the way water storage operates among Mekong countries, including China, which is crucial in improving management of the 4,350km-long river.

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