The Mekong River Commission on Tuesday reported dam equipment tests in China will affect water levels in Cambodia, Thailand and Laos in the middle of this month.
In a press release obtained yesterday, the MRC said the tests are being conducted in China’s Jinghong hydropower station and it will half water levels downstream.
It said the tests will decrease outflow from the dam from 1,200 to 1,400 cubic metres per second to 800 to 1,000 cubic metres per second until Friday.
The MRC said water levels from Jinghong will hit its lowest point of 504 to 800 cubic metres on Saturday, the last day of the testing.
“In Cambodia, water levels along the Mekong river in…Stung Treng, Kratie, Kampong Cham, Phnom Penh, Koh Khel and Neak Luong will drop [by] 0.02 to 0.25 metres from January 15 to 18,” it said.
The MRC said the river in Thailand’s Chiang Saen district in Chiang Rai province, which is approximately 300 kilometres away from China’s dam, will experience water level drops of 0.50 metres to one metre until Monday.
It said the river’s stretch in Laos will experience 0.02 to 0.70 metres drops until January 10.
Khem Sothea, MRC secretariat’s river forecasting specialist, in the press release said people living along the river may be affected by the drops in water levels.
“Some local livelihood activities, such as riverweed harvesting may be disrupted,” Mr Sothea said, adding the tests come at a time when Mekong countries are experiencing severe drought.
The MRC said in the news release drought has brought Mekong water levels to its lowest points in the last 60 years. It said most parts of the basin have since June experienced low flow.
Last month, the German government provided approximately $2.2 million to the MRC in additional funds to increase cross-border water dialogue and cooperation and support efforts in monitoring transboundary environmental impacts from Mekong mainstream dams.
Prime Minister Hun Sen last year issued a directive advising ministries and institutions to take action to conserve water so it is available during the dry season.
The government also urged farmers to cultivate dry-season rice only once, arguing the Kingdom will experience extremely hot weather and the rainy season may arrive late.
MRC in the press release said it is studying the effects of drought and low flow of water along the Mekong river.
The study is set to finish in September to identify the causes and impacts of drought and low flow water conditions.