The Mekong River is reportedly at its lowest level in the past 60 years, creating obstacles to navigation and, at the same time, affecting the lives of residents of Vientiane Capital as they are facing water supply shortages.
According to local media reports, the water levels in the upper Mekong River for the past few weeks have been dropping faster than before and are at a record-low in 6 decades.
This situation not only threatens the irrigation system that supplies water to dry-season rice crop and other types of crops, but also renders it impossible for passenger and cargo boats to make their routine runs on the Mekong between Pak Baeng and Luang Prabang or from Luang Prabang to central Laos.
At the same time, the quick drying up of the Mekong River is also affecting the Water Supply State Enterprise's ability to pump water from the Mekong River to produce water supply for Vientiane capital, which is currently experiencing shortages. On
average, the State Enterprise can provide up to 160,000
cubic meters per day to Vientiane residents. However, the drop of water level in the Mekong River has resulted in a 50% reduction in the water supplied to the city.
Despite the gravity of the situation, Lao media have made no mention of the cause attributing to the drying up of the Mekong River. But environmentalists believe the major cause to be the construction of big dams in China's Yunan province, where the Chinese authorities have planned a total of eight dam projects on the upper Mekong River. Four of those projects have already been completed. These dams allow China to regulate the flows of water downstream of the Mekong, contributing to water level fluctuation, and causing the river to dry up whenever China closes the gates of its dams.
In the face of this situation, Thai legislators have announced their
intention to do their utmost to oppose more dam constructions on the Mekong River in China, both at the governmental, regional and international levels.
Songrit Pongern reported in Lao from Bangkok on March 04, 2010. For more details in Lao, listen to Songrit's report.