Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mekong dams’ annual impact put at $450M




Mekong dams’ annual impact put at $450M

Workers build a bridge at the Don Sahong hydropower dam site in Laos in 2014. A new comprehensive report has found such projects will have disastrous effects for downstream countries. International Rivers
Workers build a bridge at the Don Sahong hydropower dam site in Laos in 2014. A new comprehensive report has found such projects will have disastrous effects for downstream countries. International Rivers

Mekong dams’ annual impact put at $450M

A 30-month study by Vietnamese researchers on the impact of 11 proposed hydroelectric dams in the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) has found that the economic damage to Cambodia alone will be worth some $450 million per year.

While experts have warned about the potential dangers of dams for years, the 800-page study, parts of which were released by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) yesterday, quantifies the potential damage to for the first time.

“Hydropower development in the LMB would cause long-lasting damage to the floodplains and aquatic environment, resulting in significant reduction in the socioeconomic status of millions of residents,” the researchers say in the study’s executive summary.

According to the researchers, the Mekong River at Kratie could, at times, lose 60 per cent of its water flow while sediment and nutrient deposits there could decline by 65 per cent.

The travel routes of migratory fish would be blocked completely, leading to an extinction of 10 per cent of fish species in southern Cambodia and Vietnam, and fisheries in both countries would produce 50 per cent less yields – a problem even the best fish ladder technology available would not be able to mitigate.

“In Cambodia . . . biodiversity would be adversely impacted and fisheries, which have great national significance, would suffer very high declines in yields,” the summary said.

Salt intrusion, primarily a Vietnamese problem, would accelerate, ruining swathes of farmland in the country, and most of these changes would be “permanent”.

Vietnam’s Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment conducted the study with the help of Denmark’s DHI Group and specialists from Laos and Cambodia.

The MRC intends to add the research to its bigger flagship study on sustainable development in the region due to be published in 2017.

While the study found the dams could cost Cambodia $450 million per year, the impact on Vietnam would be even greater, at some $760 million per year.

The executive summary says that these losses could be reduced “primarily through avoidance” – not building some or all of the dams or relocating them to tributaries instead of the main river. “Fewer numbers of dams would decrease the projected impacts to varying degrees,” it says.

MRC spokesman Sopheak Meas said that most of the document was still in the review stage and could not reveal which dams would have the greatest impact. The study’s authors were not available for comment yesterday.

Marc Goichot, a water and security team leader with the World Wildlife Fund in Vietnam said yesterday that the “development space” along the Mekong is shrinking – that is, the river can support fewer and fewer development projects.

“Sediment impacts are not speculative, they are happening right now and climate change will only make things worse,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • Passing the test: Is Cambodia’s education system failing its people?

    The Kingdom’s education system needs to grow its people but some flaws might stifle​ this growth Coming from the Khmer Rouge occupation, with the loss of many scholars and academicians and a collapsed government, the education system had to be reconstructed from scratch – one

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia