By THE NATION
The level of the Mekong in Chiang Rai’s Chiang Saen district has fallen from 2.5 metres to 1.84 metres over the past week (February 10-17).
Thai officials told the press they received no warning of the water situation from Jinghong Dam in Yunnan’s Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, about 400 kilometres upstream from Chiang Saen.
It is suspected that Thailand was given no warning about the drop in Mekong levels, since Chinese authorities have now closed the port in Xishuangbanna and few boats are travelling upstream from Chiang Saen to China.
Last Friday, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) said that water levels had dropped considerably since the beginning of the year due to lower rainfall, flow changes upstream, hydropower operations in Mekong tributaries, and outflow restrictions from Jinghong Dam.
On January 2-4, water levels at the Chiang Saen monitoring station plunged by about 1 metre.
Since then, levels at Chiang Saen have fluctuated wildly, rising and falling in a range of over half a metre. Downstream, the fluctuation between Chiang Khan in Thailand’s Loei and Vientiane in Laos has been even more severe, with the river rising and falling over a range of 0.82 metres.