Mekong countries should delay dam projects for decade: study

Oct 15, 2010
Boats are lined up at the Huay Xay pier on the Mekong river at the Laos-Thailand border. Countries in the lower Mekong River region should delay any decisions about building hydropower dams for 10 years, an influential new study said Friday, warning of the many risks involved.

Countries in the lower Mekong River region should delay any decisions about building hydropower dams for 10 years, an influential new study said Friday, warning of the many risks involved.

The recommendation was made in a Strategic Environmental Assessment (SEA) report commissioned by the Commission (MRC), an inter-governmental advisory body that deals with all Mekong River-related activities.

The MRC -- which represents Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam -- is studying the possible construction of 11 hydropower projects on southeast Asia's longest river.

"The recommendation to defer construction for a 10-year period is very significant," said Tiffany Hacker, an interim communication advisor for the MRC.

Environmental groups have long objected to damming the river, arguing that it would damage fragile ecosystems.

The assessment, led by consultants with the help of the MRC, government agencies and civil society representatives, said more time was needed to study the risks that come with building dams in such a complex environment.

"The mainstream projects are likely to result in serious and irreversible environmental damage and... losses in and ecological integrity," the report said.

It also warned that the dams would have a negative impact on fisheries and could "lead to increasing for millions of people".

The MRC stressed that it was under no obligation to follow the report's recommendations, but Hacker told AFP that member countries were "likely to take the findings seriously".

The four countries will now study the findings "for at least six months" before deciding on how to proceed, Hacker said.

More than 60 million people rely in some way on the river, which is the world's largest inland fishery, according to the MRC.

The wildlife group WWF has warned that the Mekong giant catfish -- one of the world's biggest freshwater fish -- could be driven to extinction if plans to build hydropower dams on the river go ahead, blocking spawning grounds.

Explore further: New scientific review investigates potential influences on recent UK winter floods

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Dracula fish, bald bird among strange new species

Oct 06, 2010

Dracula fish, a bald songbird and a seven-metre (23 feet) tall carnivorous plant are among several unusual new species found in the Greater Mekong region last year, researchers said Wednesday.

UN study advises caution over dams

May 21, 2009

(AP) -- A dam-building spree in China poses the greatest threat to the future of the already beleaguered Mekong, one of the world's major rivers and a key source of water for the region, a U.N. report said ...

China says planning more dams on troubled Yangtze

Apr 21, 2009

China will build at least 20 more reservoirs or hydroelectric projects in the Yangtze river system by 2020, the government said Tuesday, despite growing concerns over dam construction there.

Water-related conflicts set to escalate

Apr 30, 2010

Population growth, urbanisation, increasing pollution, soil erosion and climate variations are all reflected in the management and adequacy of the world's waters. The situation is particularly difficult in many developing ...

Dam removal increases property values

Apr 17, 2008

Two new studies appearing in Contemporary Economic Policy explore the impact of dam removal on local property values and find that property values increase after dams are removed.

Recommended for you

User comments : 0