New guidelines issued recently by the government aim to minimise water shortages and flooding both downstream and upstream of hydropower plants.
Once water levels in reservoirs rise to a critical point, dam operators are required to notify the relevant authorities, under a new decree issued by the government.
If water levels in downstream rivers dry up or are insufficient for use in a way that affects biodiversity and agricultural and industrial production and has other impacts, the operators are obliged to provide notification of the situation.
Hydropower plant operators and local and central state departments will work together to identify solutions to the problem, states the decree, which comes into effect on March 4.
If water is to be released from a reservoir in an emergency situation, the operators are required to notify local authorities promptly so that they can inform local residents quickly. Dam operators and the relevant authorities will also work together to agree on solutions to deal with the situation.
The 18-page decree defines the circumstances in which hydropower plant operators are required to provide notification. These include the point when water inflow is such that the level in a reservoir reaches the maximum storage level or critical point.
In circumstances where river levels downstream of a dam rise to or fall to a critical level, notification must also be made.
In the event of loss or damage caused by water storage or discharge, hydropower plant operators are required to provide solutions and make financial contributions in support of local people’s mental and physical wellbeing as well as compensating them for any property that has been lost.
The decree aims to regulate and monitor reservoirs to ensure the effective use of water resources in a sustainable and green manner.
Effective management of water resources and rivers, especially those used by hydropower plants, is seen as crucial as Laos strives to build more dams and become an important exporter of electricity to countries in the region.