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Mekong basin water levels back to normal long-term averages

Ben Sokhean / Khmer Times Share:
The low Mekong River water level at Phnom Penh’s riverside during the dry season. KT/Tep Sony

The Mekong River Commission(MRC) yesterday said the water levels across the vast majority of lower Mekong basin have now returned to their normal long-term averages.

The announcement was made after the MRC last month called member countries and Dialogue Partners to improve the management of the Mekong River through greater data sharing, transparency and cooperation.

However, MRC said water levels are still lower than those during the 2018 and 2019 dry seasons. The drought since June last year brought the Mekong water level across the basin to a record low, lower than ever recorded since measurements began 60 years ago.

MRC said in its statement yesterday that based on water monitoring, early rainfall across the Mekong region this month contributed to putting back the Mekong River levels to their normal state.

It noted that in Thailand’s Chiang Saen, the most upstream monitoring station in the lower basin, yesterday’s water level is three metres or 1.20 higher than its average level. In Lao ’s Vientiane, the level is slightly over two metres, while its average level is 1.13 metres.

“In Cambodia, the water levels in Stung Treng, Kratie and Kampong Cham are all above their average levels. The river levels at Chaktomuk, Phnom Penh Port and Prek Kdam are all within their averages,” the statement said.

While in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta – Tan Chau on the Mekong River and Chau Doc on the Bassac River, the water levels are still fluctuating around their averages due to tidal effects.

Lam Hung Son, the MRC Secretariat’s Head of Regional Flood and Drought Management, said the region has seen quite a good amount of rainfall since the third week of April even though its total accumulated amount is only at an average level.

“Due to the effect of last year’s extreme low flows in the Mekong mainstream, the water levels during this year’s dry season are still lower than those of 2018 and 2019,” he said, adding the situation is gradually improving.

The MRC also said the Mekong region is now being affected by a transition between the El Nino and La Nina phenomena.

“We are expecting a wetter condition and more rain over the next three months. However, people should also be careful as downpours and flash floods could come at any time, resulting in possible damage to properties, crops and even lives,” Mr Son said.

The MRC noted in its statement that rainfalls will be uneven during May to July across the Kingdom, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam.

“May appears to be dry across the four countries. But in June, Cambodia and Thailand are expected to receive more rainfall than Laos and Vietnam. In July, an excessive amount of rainfall is forecast for Cambodia, Laos and Thailand, while a little less for Vietnam,” it added.

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