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Mekong River Commission Acknowledges that Dams in China Help, Not Harm, Downstream Water Control

June 14, 2017 (EIRNS)—For years, the greenies, led by such groups as International Rivers and the World Wildlife Fund, have mobilized opposition to the building of dams on the Mekong/Lancang river in China and Southeast Asia (and everywhere else). On June 6, however, the Mekong River Commission, the inter-governmental organization representing Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Viet Nam, issued a report showing clearly that the dams built by China on the Lancang (the Mekong in China) "do affect water flows in the Lower Mekong Basin," but, rather than harming them, as claimed by the greens, the dams make possible "reducing the flow during the wet season and increasing it during the dry season," both saving the downstream nations from severe droughts and reducing the danger of floods.

The report states:

"Since 1993, China has built six dams in the mainstream on the Upper Mekong Basin.... Operations of these dams have stirred many concerns from the Lower Mekong Basin communities on how these dams will impact their river and livelihoods..., including how changes in water flow (discharge) impact on fisheries, sediments, and downstream community livelihoods."

Their study shows:

"Downstream water flow in the dry season increased, easing effects of droughts.... For example, the release of water supplement from the Lancang dams eased the regional drought of 2016. The drought resulted in 16% less flows compared to the long-term average. However, because of the emergency water releases from the Chinese dams upstream, that increased dry season flows that ultimately helped to mitigate potential impacts of the drought.... These releases amounted to between 40-89% of flows along various sections of the Mekong River."

Global Times today published an article reporting on the study, noting:

"China will continue its efforts to enhance coordination with Southeast Asian countries, and regional cooperation along the river could be taken as a reference for other countries, India and Bangladesh included, to resolve disputes with China over water-resource exploitation."

They add:

"China is an upstream nation controlling the headwaters of several major transboundary rivers, including the Yarlung Zangbo River—upstream from the Brahmaputra River in India—where China’s construction of dams is also a source of concern. It’s no use blaming the Chinese dams, which aim to help with reasonable utilization of water resources. The best solution for resolving disputes between China and India over water-resource exploitation would be a cooperation mechanism to contribute to the sustainable use of the Brahmaputra River and to promote regional economic integration. China is likely to adopt an open attitude toward sharing hydrologic information with India, but such goodwill gestures will only come in exchange for reciprocal cooperation from India."