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Much lower water levels recorded so far in 2020

Khann Chanvirak / Khmer Times Share:
A beach in the Mekong River in Kratie province. KT/Mai Vireak

RAINFALL and water levels in the Mekong river basin are very low this year, compared with 2018 and 2019, said Water Resources Ministry spokesman Chan Youttha

The statement came during a press conference on the “Current Hydrological Situation in the Mekong and Tonle Sap Basin” at the Council of Ministers yesterday

“Due to a prolonged El Nino phenomenon in 2019, there have been droughts across the country which have reduced the level of water in lakes and tributaries, which in turn has lowered levels in the Mekong River, leaving the Mekong basin dry,” he said

“So far this rainy season, we have also seen less rainfall than usual in Cambodia

This has meant the water levels are not currently reaching the needs of the people, for instance in the Tonle Sap lake,” he said

“However, we are expecting more rainfall and the situation to improve,” Youttha said

“At Bassac and Chaktomuk River station, we forecast water levels to reach an average of 9.70 metres,” he said

The Cambodia National Mekong Committee secretary-general Te Navuth said rainfall in Cambodia so far in 2020 has been very low compared with the previous two years

He said between January and July in 2020, around 397mm of rainfall has been recorded, which was very low in comparison to 2018 which was 1,069mm and 2019 which was 628mm

“Since the beginning of August 2020, the rainfall and river levels have increased significantly,” he said

“Due to the effects of low pressure on valleys, tropical depression, tropical storms and typhoons, rainfall will be expected to exceed the average during the month of August.” According to forecasts by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration, in August and September rainfall will increase above the usual average by 45mm to 100mm in the Mekong basin, more than in the same period in 2019

Navuth said: “This also indicates the possibility of a tropical depression, tropical storms or typhoons in the Mekong Basin in August and September 2020.” Deputy secretary-general of the Tonle Sap Authority Mao Hak said since records began in 1997, the inflow of water into the Tonle Sap lake so far in 2020 was the lowest recorded

According to his authority’s calculations, the inflow into the Tonle Sap Lake by the end of July was 0.26 billion cubic metres, compared to 0.68 billion cubic metres in July 2019

Hak pointed out that the average height of the Tonle Sap Lake was constant between 2000 and 2010

However, from 2011 to 2020, the water level of Tonle Sap Lake was lower than average, except in 2018

“Low water levels have been due to low rainfall so far this rainy season, infrastructure developments, the 2018 and 2019 droughts and high temperatures,” he added

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