Mekong River water level rise barely discernible in Vietnam

By Viet Anh   February 23, 2021 | 07:07 am GMT+7
Mekong River water level rise barely discernible in Vietnam
General view of Mekong River, Ban Namprai village, Nong Khai province, Thailand in 2019. Photo by Reuters.
Water levels in some sections of the Mekong River have only increased slightly in the last seven days though China has claimed consistent excess outflow from the Jinghong dam.

The outflow at Jinghong hydrological station rose from 786 cubic meters per second on February 15 to 1,020 cu.m per second after a week, the Mekong River Commission (MRC) said in a press release on Monday.

This contrasted with a statement by China’s Ministry of Water Resources earlier month, which said that the outflow at Jinghong had consistently exceeded 1,000 cu.m per second since the end of January.

The MRC says the discrepancy between outflow estimates could stem from different methods being used to calculate discharge at the Jinghong station.

"The Secretariat and China’s Ministry of Water Resources are now working together to provide more consistent water discharge information," the MRC said.

Jinghong is one of 11 hydropower operational dams that China has built on the Mekong River.

In the Lower Mekong River Basin, the increase in water levels was more apparent from Chiang Saen in Thailand to Vientiane in Laos, but less discernible in stretches of the river between Nakhon Phanom (Thailand) and Savannakhet in (Laos), and between Kompong Cham in Cambodia and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.

In October 2020, China agreed to provide the MRC with year-round hydrological data from two stations located on the upper Mekong mainstream, one at Jinghong and one on a tributary at Manan in China’s south-western Yunnan province. However, the agreement covers data on water levels, not discharge.

In another development, the MRC Secretariat has forecast that this year’s dry season will be wetter than in 2019 and 2020, with the rainy season likely to begin early May. Normally, the monsoon rains begin late May and end in October.

Downstream countries have suffered record low levels along the Mekong River in 2019 and 2020, severely damaging livelihoods and raising questions over the impact of mainstream Mekong dams in China and Laos on the river’s flow.

Around 60 million people depend on the Mekong for fishing and farming in Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam.

 
 
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