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As Mekong River Hit Record Lows Laos Urged to Suspend Dam Trials

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BANGKOK – Thailand’s Office of National Water Resources (ONWR) has urged the Lao to suspend the trial operations of the Xayaburi hydropower dam due to alarming low water level of the Mekong River.

The Mekong river water levels have fallen drastically due mainly to dam operations in China.

Generating grave concerns over Mekong ecosystems and the livelihood of millions of people who depend on the river.

Somkiat Prajumwong, secretary-general at Thailand’s Office of National Water Resources (ONWR), told TNA on Friday the agency sent a letter asking the Lao government to suspend the trial of the Xayaburi Dam for a few days.

Laos on July 15 started the trial which lasted until July 29.

The trial worsened the situation as it caused the water level to drop dramatically, Somkiat said.

China’s Jinghong Dam operation and the lack of rainfalls had also been blamed for the worst water crisis in the Mekong River basin in nearly 30 years, he added.

The ONWR expected the situation to be improved in the next 2-3 days as more water would be discharged from China’s dams, he said.

Meanwhile, environmental experts highlighted on Friday that low level of water caused by upstream dam projects has triggered the death of masses of fish and heightened the risk of mass extinction of aquatic life in the entire Mekong River Basin.

They said that the ongoing loss of biodiversity in the Mekong Basin is posing a major threat to food security and well being of hundreds of millions of people in the region.

“The extremely low level of water is killing these fish, because it is preventing them from entering tributaries to lay eggs in flooded forests and swamps, which means an entire generation of fish will vanish.”

Niwat Roikaew, chief of Chiang Rai’s environmental conservation group Rak Chiang Khong, said that he will send a petition detailing the Mekong River’s bizarre water levels and other impacts China’s upstream hydropower projects are having on people to the Chinese Embassy in Bangkok soon.

“I want a productive discussion based on academic information with Chinese authorities to mitigate the adverse impact these hydropower dams are having on the ecosystems and the people of the Mekong River Basin,” Niwat said.

“If China wants to be a superpower, it must improve its standards of environmental protection on all its projects, otherwise negative feedback from harmful projects will affect its reputation globally.”

Source: TNA, Nation