The water outflow at Jinghong hydropower station in China’s Yunnan province is being decreased because of ongoing power grid maintenance that began on Jan 5 and is scheduled to continue until Jan 24. The changes in river water levels along the Mekong River will affect Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
According to an announcement from China’s Ministry of Water Resources and the Mekong River Commission Secretariat (MRCS) this week, the maintenance of transmission lines of the power grid will result in water outflow reduction to 1,000 cubic metres per second (m³/s).
The water flow will gradually be restored to its normal operational status on Jan 25, the notification said. The ministry did not specify the river level prior to the reduction or the volume that would be restored on Jan 25.
Based on the MRC’s observed water-level data at Jinghong available through Jan 4, the outflow level started decreasing from 1,410 m³/s on Dec 31 to 768 m³/s on Jan 1. This represents an almost 50 percent drop. The flow rose slightly to 786 m³/s between Jan 1 and Jan 4.
As a result, water levels along the Mekong River are likely to drop by about 1.2 metres, according to MRC’s observed and forecast water-level data.
In Cambodia, the water levels along the Mekong in Stung Treng, Kratie, Kompong Cham, Phnom Penh, Koh Khel and Neak Luong have yet to see much of a decrease.
Jinghong hydropower station has contributed to huge fluctuations in river levels that affect people’s livelihoods downstream by disrupting the river’s natural cycle. It, along with the many other dams on the river, exacerbates the effects of climate change, affecting the ecosystem, withholding silt, disturbing the migratory patterns of fish and the conditions of riverbank buildings, plants and local agriculture.
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.