Mekong Under Threat Governments to Decide on First Mainstream Dam April 19 In September 2010, the Xayaburi Dam was the first of eleven proposed dams for the Lower Mekong River’s mainstream to be submitted for approval by the region’s governments through a… See More
Catching fish in the Khone Falls area, Southern Lao. (Ian Baird)
Cached from: http://www.internationalrivers.org/en/node/2257?gclid=CL74p8PopqECFRBx5QoddS2rEg
The revival of plans to build a series of dams on the Mekong River’s mainstream in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand presents a serious threat to the river’s ecology and puts at risk the wellbeing of millions of people dependent on the river for food, income, transportation and a multitude of other needs.
Since the 1960s, several mega-schemes to dam the Lower Mekong River’s mainstream to generate electricity have been proposed. The most recent plan, prepared by the Mekong Secretariat in 1994, was shelved in part due to public outcry over the predicted impacts on the river’s fisheries and the large number of people who would be displaced or otherwise affected.
But now there are troubling signs that the tide is turning. Since mid-2006, the Governments of Cambodia, Laos and Thailand have granted approval to Thai, Malaysian, Vietnamese, Russian and Chinese companies to investigate eleven mainstream hydropower dams. The projects are located at Pak Beng, Luang Prabang, Sayabouri, Pak Lay, and Sanakham in northern Laos; Pak Chom and Ban Koum on the Thai-Lao border; Lat Sua and Don Sahong in southern Laos; and Stung Treng and Sambor in Cambodia (see map). That these projects are once again being actively investigated is cause for alarm.
Already serious concerns have been raised by non-governmental organizations and scientists over the Don Sahong dam, which is at the most advanced stage of development. The project is located in the Khone Falls area of Laos one kilometer upstream of the Cambodian border and would block the area’s most important fish migration route, ultimately undermining fisheries-based livelihoods throughout the basin.
China’s dam construction on the Upper Mekong has already caused downstream impacts, especially along the Thai-Lao border where communities have suffered declining fisheries and changing water levels that have seriously affected their livelihoods. By changing the river’s hydrology, blocking fish migration and affecting the river’s ecology, the construction of dams on the Lower Mekong mainstream will have repercussions throughout the entire basin.
International Rivers is working with partners in the region and internationally to keep the Lower Mekong River’s mainstream flowing freely.
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Existing and Planned Lao Hydropower Projects
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Khone Phapheng, The world’s widest waterfall in Laos
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