Tag: River basin and watershed

The water conflict on the Mekong

Located at the end of the Mekong River basin, the Mekong Delta in Vietnam is currently experiencing the most severe drought and salinity intrusion in 100 years.
According to experts, the principal reason is development activities in Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries related to the use of the Mekong River’s water resources, including the operation and construction of mega-dams along the river as well as water diversion for agricultural purposes. Thus far, after months of struggling in a record-breaking drought, millions of farmers in the Mekong Delta have succumbed to exhaustion, due to significant losses of crops, fruits and aquaculture. Part Two of the series examines the impacts of dam construction and other projects on the Mekong Delta.

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A Thirsty Mekong Delta

Located at the end of the Mekong River basin, the Mekong Delta in Vietnam is currently experiencing the most severe drought and salinity intrusion in 100 years. According to experts, the principal reason is development activities in Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) countries related to the use of the Mekong River’s water resources, including the operation and construction of mega-dams along the river as well as water diversion for agricultural purposes. Thus far, after months of struggling in a record-breaking drought, millions of farmers in the Mekong Delta have succumbed to exhaustion, due to significant losses of crops, fruits and aquaculture.

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Spotlight: China releases water to drought-stricken Mekong countries ahead of Lancang-Mekong cooperation meeting

China has started to discharge water into the lower reaches of the Mekong River to alleviate drought in Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam, as a major gesture before the first Lancang-Mekong cooperation (LMC) leaders’ meeting to be held in late March.

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China to play vital role in development of Lancang-Mekong cooperation framework: Vietnamese expert

Trinh Le Nguyen, executive director of People and Nature Reconciliation, a Vietnamese not-for-profit organization, made the remark in an exclusive interview with Xinhua in the capital Hanoi on Tuesday.

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Missing Water – A Mekong Story

The story is produced by PanNature with support from the McArthur Foundation and the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF).

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10 Reasons Why Climate Initiatives Should Not Include Large Hydropower Projects

Large hydropower projects are often propagated as a “clean and green” source of electricity by international financial institutions, national governments and other actors. They greatly benefit from instruments meant to address climate change, including carbon credits under the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), credits from the World Bank’s Climate Investment Funds, and special financial terms from export credit agencies and green bonds. The dam industry advocates for large hydropower projects to be funded by the Green Climate Fund, and many governments boost dams as a response to climate change through national initiatives. For example, at least twelve governments with major hydropower sectors have included an expansion of hydropower generation in their reports on Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs).

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Thai Mekong Communities Request Injunction to Suspend Xayaburi Dam Power Purchase Agreement

Bangkok, Thailand – The Save the Mekong coalition (StM) supports the Network of Thai People in the Eight Provinces of the Mekong Basin (the Network) filing an injunction today in the Thai Administrative Court calling for a suspension of the Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) for the Xayaburi Dam, the first dam being built on the Lower Mekong River.

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Strategic Environmental Assessment for Each River Basin

On November 25, Vietnam River Network (VRN), Center for People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature, Vietnam Union of Science and Technology) and Centre for Promotion of Integrated Water Resources Management (Ciwarem) sent a recommendation document to the National Assembly (NA) on planning and management of hydropower projects on rivers’ basin.

As assessed by VRN and PanNature, with a dense network of rivers and favorable geological conditions, Vietnam is considered as one of the countries with hydropower potential. For over 20 years, this potential source has been strongly exploited to serve the objectives of socio- economic development of the country. Currently, Vietnam has 268 hydroelectric projects of large, small and medium scale that have gone into operation, contributing 45.17 % of the total power output of the national electricity grid. However, a large area of forestland, agricultural land and other types was permanently acquired by these works. Worse still, hydropower plants alter natural flow of rivers in both flooding season and dry season, which significantly reduces the amount of the downstream sediment.

thuydienHaGiangPhoto: PanNature.

In that context, VRN, PanNature and Ciwarem have recommended the NA and management agencies urgently implement a comprehensive assessment of the operational process of hydropower projects as well as separate projects as ladder works, dam and downstream safety; continue reviewing hydropower development planning, consider delaying construction projects in planning without adequate assessment of the environmental and social costs. It is essential that the government prioritizes strategic environmental assessment of hydropower development plan in each river basin to examine related issues, such as environmental and social impacts; coherence with development planning or other nature conservation plans before shifting to the investment phase.

Source: MONRE

Call for rethink on hydro-power plants

Four non-government organisations (NGOs) have called on the National Assembly for tighter controls on hydro-power plants to prevent loss of lives and widespread damage during storms.

The recommendation was made by the Viet Nam River Network (VRN), People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature), Centre for Sustainable Development of Water Resources and Adaptation to Climate Change (CEWAREC), and the Centre for Promotion of Integrated Water Resources Management (CIWAREM).

The NGO leaders said that the operation of existing power plants had created severe impacts on residents lives, property – and the environment.

thuydien112013Photo: PanNature.

“We understand the contribution these plants make to the economic development of the nation, but we call for reconsideration on planning future ones and their impacts on rivers and environment in general,” said Lam Thi Thu Suu, VRN’s chief coordinator.

“We also call for more responsible management by Government on sharing water resources and water discharges during the flood season.

“For years, locals in Central region have experienced so much loss, including loss of lives, properties, livelihood and culture,” she said.

In early November, the unannounced discharge of a huge volume of water from Huong Dien and Binh Dien power plants in Thua Thien Hue Province killed three people on their way to school and on work.

Later, continuous water discharges of water from power reservoirs added to the floods caused by heavy rains in Central provinces from Thua Thien Hue to Khanh Hoa. The size of the floods was described as historic. They claimed 43 lives, destroyed concrete bridges and roads, and wiped out thousands of hectares of crops.

The record floods created an emergency situation for thousands of people in the southern Central region and Central Highlands.

At a NA session last week, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung admitted that the management of power plants had been loosely handled and pledged that the National Assembly would tighten up the situation.

The four local NGOs also recommended forcing power plant developers, managers and central and local governments to comply with strict regulations.

They asked for a detailed assessment on the losses caused by power plants so that those affected could be properly compensated and enabled to get on with their lives.

The NGOs recommendation called for environmental-impact assessments for power projects to be carefully implemented by the scientific community before any new work was done.

Source: VietnamNews

Consensus – key to protect lower Mekong River

As a nation in the lower Mekong River basin, Vietnam potentially bears serious impacts from programmes and development projects deployed on the mainstream of the upper river, and therefore needs to put forward solutions to deal with different development scenarios.

Vietnam’s territory accounts for eight percent of the basin’s total area and 11 percent of its total water volume.

The territory, which is home to 20 million Vietnamese people, includes the source of Nam Ron River in northern Dien Bien province, the upper Se Kong and Se Ba Hieng Rivers, the Se San and Srepok River basins, and the Mekong River Delta.

Development in the Mekong River’s upper area will have environmental and social impacts on the lower Mekong River.

Under the Strategic Environmental Assessment of Hydropower on the Mekong Mainstream conducted by the International Centre for Environmental Management (ICEM), Vietnam may suffer greater economic losses if a dam system is constructed on the mainstream.

Xayaburi-photo

The Mekong River in Laos. Photo: PanNature.

The construction would result in a reduction in the river’s water volume in the dry season, which combined with climate change impacts and rising sea water levels will lead to increased sea-water intrusion and affect the Mekong River Delta’s agriculture and aquaculture sectors.

It will also reduce the amount of silt from 26 to seven million tonnes per year to seven million tonnes annually, while the delta’s aquatic sector will see an annual estimated loss between 500 million and one billion USD.

According to Tran Thi Thanh Thuy from People and Nature Reconciliation (PanNature) – a non-governmental organisation dedicated to protecting the environment, Vietnam may execute solutions to deal with the losses by stepping up cooperation through the Mekong River Commission.

The Agreement on the Cooperation for Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin has been the best cooperation framework to exchange, negotiate and seek consensus on issues relating to the basin’s development.

The Vietnam National Mekong Committee needs to improve its organising capacity, implement programmes and projects to survey impacts, and seek out solutions to support Government policymaking and cooperation with other countries in the region.

Vietnam needs to create consensus in the ASEAN community on the orientations of the basin’s development, she added.

It should also encourage social organisations and non-governmental organisations to enhance national and regional cooperation and dialogues so as to create social support and consensus to protect local people in the basin and Vietnam in particular.

The country must cooperate with sponsors and partners from Laos and Cambodia to seek optimal and sustainable development solutions that are in line with each country.

With its experience in economic growth and poverty reduction, Vietnam could help neighbouring countries apply the development models effectively, and avoid any negative impacts that may emerge in the process of development.

The efficient implementation of programmes, investment projects and development aid is another critical solution. As investors, Vietnamese enterprises need to study and apply international standards to their projects deployed in neigbouring countries to minimise environmental and social consequences.

Vietnam’s ways to rationally deal with the issues depends on each development scenario. However, the most crucial factor is still a consensus on development cooperation between relevant countries to protect the lower Mekong River, Thuy stressed.

Source: VietnamPlus

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