Mekong is at historical lows

The Mekong is once again at historical lows. The Mekong River Commission (MRC) gauge at Phnom Penh Port shows river level to be four metres below average for this time of year – and lower than last year’s record.

This gauge is measuring river level on the Tonle Sap River just a few hundred metres upstream from the Tonle Sap’s confluence with the Mekong mainstream. This river level indicates the annual reversal of the Tonle Sap River and flooding around the Tonle Sap lake will happen much later than expected, tweeted Brian Eyler, a senior fellow and director of Stimson’s Southeast Asia programme.

He went on to say: “The causal factors are a lack of rainfall, the Mekong’s wet season has yet to kick in and the impacts of hundreds of upstream dams in Laos (100+), Cambodia (two), Thailand (nine+), Vietnam (16+), and China (100+). China’s major upstream dams at Nuozhadu and Xiaowan have already turned off their taps and are in the process of restricting around 20 billion cubic metres of water – at a time when the downstream needs that water.

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Mark Hughes