Climate change, drought, and upstream dams have led to record low water levels on the Mekong River, according to experts, who say the shortage is significantly harming Cambodia’s Tonle Sap Lake and the surrounding fishing communities who rely on it to earn a living.
The water gauge on the Mekong at the port of Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh, which lies only several hundred meters from where water from the river flows to the Tonle Sap Lake, is currently registering levels of 13 feet below average for late July and lower than last year’s record, according to local media reports.
Traditionally, heavy rains during the June-October wet season push water from the Mekong River into the Tonle Sap Lake via the 70-mile-long Tonle Sap River which reverses its flow during the November to May dry season, draining the lake into the Mekong. The Tonle Sap would normally increase its level by four times during the monsoon season.
Mao Hak, deputy secretary-general of the Tonle Sap Authority, recently told RFA’s Khmer Service that the water level of the lake is extremely low because changing weather patterns have delayed the annual reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap River.
Reported and translated by Sovannarith Keo. Written in English by Joshua Lipes.