GOVERNMENT officials said Sunday that they did not believe the falling water level of the Mekong River had been caused by the construction of Chinese dams, arguing that climate change was instead to blame.
“Some countries say falling water levels in the Mekong River are caused by China’s damming practices, but Cambodia sees it is as a result of climate change,” said Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Koy Kuong, who added that a drought in southwestern China was a more specific cause.
Pich Dun, secretary general of the Cambodia National Mekong Commission, who is set to attend the Mekong River Summit early next month in Hua Hin, Thailand, echoed Koy Kuong’s comments.
“People who don’t know the facts put the blame on China’s dams,” said Pich Dun, adding that according to the results of a study by the Mekong River Commission, the falling water levels in the Mekong are caused by drought in China, Laos and Thailand.
The government’s position is at odds with that of some conservation advocates and officials in the region.
According to the Save the Mekong Coalition, changes to the Mekong River’s daily hydrology and sediment load since the early 1990s have been linked to Chinese damming practices.
Thailand’s Water Resources Department said earlier this month that data collected over the past five years shows that the major cause of the Mekong’s low water levels is the construction of dams along the river in China’s Yunnan province.
The Mekong River Comission has noted that the river is at its lowest level in nearly 20 years.
China said last week that it would begin sharing information about upstream Mekong water levels with countries downstream, an announcement
that was welcomed by water conservation groups as well as government officials.