Dams upstream slowly killing the mighty Mekong
The Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) on Tuesday released satellite images showing a drastic drop in the water level of Mekong River this Sunday compared to images captured on January 3.
“The water level of Mekong River has dropped considerably in the past month,” the agency said. “The sediment is now clearly visible under the water, which is now dark blue, while several sand bars have emerged in the middle of the river.”
GISTDA said this change in water levels is an indication of the severe drought the region will face.
“Eight provinces along the river will be affected, namely Chiang Rai, Loei, Nong Khai, Beung Kan, Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan, Amnat Charoen and Ubon Ratchathani,” it said. “The drought will not just affect the ecosystem, but also farms growing cash crops like rice, rubber, tobacco and tomato.”
Meanwhile, Samran Reunnak, acting chief of Nakhon Phanom Fishery Office, said the level of the river has been low for several years now and will eventually affect the local aquatic life.
“The river turns dark blue because the water is too low and cannot flow properly, causing the sediment to settle, which makes the water darker,” he said. “Fish will not be able to lay eggs in this water and eventually some rare species will disappear from the river.”
Samran put the drop in Mekong River levels down to dams built in neighbouring countries.
The once mighty Mekong River has been crippled by 11 dams built by China upstream and another two in Laos despite protests from environmentalists.