Wednesday June 29, 2022

Radio Free Asia

Abnormally high-water levels in the Mekong River at the end of May indicate that dams on the river must release less water during the dry season to protect the ecosystem, experts said at an online panel Monday. 

Rain levels during the dry season this year have increased, experts told an online seminar about the unseasonably wet 2022 dry season, hosted by the Washington-based Stimson Center. But they singled out dams, particularly in China and Laos, as adding to the problem of flooding along the lower half of the river, threatening the ecosystems there.

The Mekong region is home to numerous species of plants and animals that rely on its annual changes from dry season to wet season and back again, the panelists said. Disruption of the cycle is harmful to many of the species, and in turn the riparian communities that depend on them.

“I think our data shows that very clearly the river level there is much higher during the dry season than normal … and China’s dams actually can be part of the solution,” Brian Eyler, Southeast Asia program director of the Stimson Center and co-lead of its Mekong Dam Monitor Project, told the panel on Monday.

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