Hydropower dams have had a dramatic effect on the Mekong river over the last two decades, resulting in unseasonable flooding and droughts, low water levels in the dry season, and drops in the amounts of sediment carried by the river, with drastic consequences for biodiversity and fisheries.
What effect could building a dam along the Mekong River in Southeast Asia have on different groups who live along the river?
These dams “could cause irreversible and long-term ecological damage to a river that feeds millions of people,” Olson explained. In addition, new dams could push endangered aquatic species such as the Mekong giant catfish further to the brink of extinction.
What are the two main problems that the Mekong River is facing?
The Mekong River ecosystem is on the verge of irreversible collapse due to the accumulative effects of climate change and increased numbers of upstream dams as well as other human-made activities such as deforestation, sand mining, extensive irrigation for agriculture and wetland conversion.
How does damming of the Mekong River affect the livelihoods of the people and the river’s ecosystem?
River experts say that if the dam-building boom proceeds as planned, it could diminish essential flood pulses and decimate fisheries and riverside gardens that are dependent on variable flows and sediment. That, in turn, would affect the diets and livelihoods of 40 million people dependent on the Mekong.
Why is there potential for conflict at the Mekong River?
The Mekong basin is witnessing an enormous expansion of dam-building for hydropower generation, especially in China and Laos. This has led to diplomatic tensions as countries downstream of the dams fear the negative impacts they may bring about, from greater flooding to seasonal lack of water.
What are threats to the Mekong River?
The most pressing threats are hydropower development, climate change, illegal wildlife trade and habitat loss.
How does the Mekong River affect people’s daily lives?
Water from the Mekong River sustains a rich array of wildlife. Its fisheries provide a livelihood for 60 million people. As a source of water and food, it touches the lives of more than 300 million people from over 100 ethnic groups.
How has climate change affected the Mekong River?
Warmer and wetter. Across the Greater Mekong region, temperatures have risen by 0.5 to 1.5 ºC in the past 50 years and continue to rise. More frequent and severe droughts and floods are already causing extensive damage to property and loss of life.
How has the Mekong river changed?
Then, in 2019 things took a turn for the worse. It started when critical monsoon rains failed to arrive as usual in late May. As drought gripped the region, water levels in the Mekong dropped to their lowest in 100 years. … The water has changed to an ominous color and begun filling with globs of algae.
How did the Mekong river get polluted?
The pollution is due in part to the expansion of rice fields from 3.2 million hectares in 1995 to 3.9 million hectares this year and the increased use of fertilizers and pesticides. Another reason is pond expansion to grow pangasius (basa and tra).
What is the benefit of Damming the Mekong?
Damming the Mekong will: impact the region’s natural monsoonal flood/drought cycles. block sediment and nutrient transfer, seriously impacting the fish and aquatic life of the river and wetlands.
What is the economic importance of the Mekong River?
The Mekong plays a crucial role in the economies of LMB countries. It supports one of the world’s largest inland fisheries, which has a total economic value estimated at US$17 billion – about three per cent of the region’s combined gross domestic product.
How important is Mekong River in Laos?
The Mekong River connects China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam physically and economically. The river is a lifeline for the entire basin, sustaining economies and livelihoods across the entire region.
Why is the Mekong River so important to Southeast Asia?
From its source in the Tibetan Plateau to its end in Vietnam, the Mekong River is a critical source of drinking water for the millions of people who live in its watershed.
How many dams are on the Mekong River?
New data demonstrates a devastating effect on downstream water supplies that feed millions of people. Eleven massive dams straddle the mighty Mekong River before it leaves China and flows into Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and on into Vietnam.
How many dams has China built on the Mekong?
China has constructed 11 giant dams along the mountainous territory of the Upper Mekong to sustain its ever-increasing energy needs. The management of water flows has long been a concern for many living along the river.