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Impacts of Hydropower Dams & Climate Change on Stream flows in the Mekong River – Overview

By Dr. Lilliana Corredor, Founder, Scientists for the Mekong, June 11, 2017

In this article, we offer an overview and summary of the latest research studies on the impacts of Hydropower Dams and Climate Change on Stream flows in the Mekong River. These variations in Stream Flows in turn, impact on the Mekong River’s ecology, fisheries and on riparian communities dependent on the river for survival.

River management focuses not only on the total volume of water runoff but also on its flow regime.

Changes in flow regimes in the Mekong River are currently the result of:

  1. Human activities – through Hydropower Dams, Water diversion for irrigation, Municipal demands, Rural Water Consumption, and Industrial needs. And,
  2. Climate change – through loss of glaciers at the headwaters of the Mekong River in the Tibetan Plateau, precipitation and evaporation.

These factors significantly alter the hydrological flow patterns, which in turn, change river ecosystems at a basin scale, and thereby, affect aquatic communities, biodiversity, fish reproduction, and the humans that depend on the river products for survival (Kuenzer et al. 2012; Li et al. 2017; Räsänen, T.A., et al. 2017).

A recent study (Räsänen, T.A., et al. 2017) led by researchers from Aalto University in Finland, found that the hydropower projects in the Upper Mekong-Lancang River in China, have caused significant river flow changes to the Mekong River since 2010 & 2014, when the Xiaowan and Nuozhadu mega-dams were  respectively completed.

They also found that, changes in water levels by Hydropower Dams in China can be felt 2,000 Km. downstream from the Chinese Dams, as far south as Cambodia. They state:

An analysis of river flows in Northern Thailand indicates that the hydropower operations considerably increased dry season flows and decreased wet season flows. Furthermore, the study shows that the dry season flows have also become increasingly variable.

The river flow impacts were largest in 2014 after completion of theNuozhadu dam’, the largest hydropower project in the Mekong Basin, and the impacts were observable over 2000 km downstream in Cambodia. The hydropower operations dampened the Mekong River’s annual flood, which is a key driver of the ecological productivity of the river.

The river flow changes are feared to affect the ecological productivity of the river and thus the livelihoods, economy and food security of the downstream people. In particular, the impacts on fishing are a major concern because fish and other aquatic animals play a major role in the local and regional economy and food supply.”

Chinese Dams in the Upper Mekong – Lancang River. via www.burmariversnetwork.org

 

These results have been further corroborated by another recent study carried out by a group of  Chinese researchers (Li, D. et al. 2017) who found that Hydropower Dams not only significantly altered flow regimes, and negatively impacted on ecosystems but also, the impact of Dams superseded the impact of Climate Change on stream-flow regimes. The main points of their research are provided below:

No dam was constructed on the mainstream of the Mekong River until 1992. China has built six hydropower dams on the mainstream of the Lancang River (i.e., the UMB) since 1992… The two largest dams are Xiaowan (14.56km3 in total storage, completed in 2010) and Nuozhadu (22.4 km3 in total storage, completed in 2014), contributing 36% and 55% of the total storage capacity of all the existing reservoirs in the basin, respectively. Although the streamflow regime has been altered because of large-scale dams the hydropower generation of the Mekong River has kept increasing in recent years (MRC, 2010).

The primary objective of these dams is hydropower generation, which is expected to yield considerable economic benefits for the riparian countries. However, the construction and operation of large dams would also affect the patterns of stream flow, resulting in multiple changes in stream flow regimes, thereby causing a negative impact on ecosystems.

The operation of dams reduces the stream flow in wet seasons and increases the stream flow in dry seasons, resulting in a unique seasonal variation in the stream flow based on eco-flow metrics in the Chiang Saen gauging station, observed from 2010 to 2014. In addition, the maximum flow values decreased significantly in the Chiang Saen gauging station during the year corresponding to the completion of the upstream dams.

The construction and operation of dams clearly have significant impacts on low pulse duration. 

It is observed that climate change dictated the changes in the annual streamflow during the transition period 1992–2009 (82.28%), whereas human activities contributed more in the post-impact period 2010–2014 (61.88%). For example, climate change may cause changes in precipitation, increasing the impacts caused by dams as more water would be regulated by reservoirs during the long dry seasons (Lu et al., 2014).”

The seasonal variation in the stream-flow caused by Hydropower Dams, i.e. reducing the stream flow in the wet season, while sporadically increasing the stream flow in the dry season – in an “on & off” basis, results in:

The water flows are contrary to nature’s seasonal rhythms,
go against the ecological needs of ecosystems and species, and
contradict the ‘genetic migration programming’ of aquatic species.

Hence, everything in the River basin goes topsy-turvy, reducing productivity, drying out and then flooding wetlands and riparian zones, confusing the migratory patterns of fish and invertebrates, and blocking the fish progress with a Dam wall to make things worse.

As mentioned above, the construction and operation of Chinese dams in the Upper Mekong-Lancang River clearly have significant impacts on stream-flows and low pulse duration.  

The Tonle Sap Lake and the floodplain wetlands are now threatened ecosystems because of the dramatic differences in water levels and the low pulse duration experienced since the construction of the Chinese Dams, Laotian Dams and the Cambodian LS2 Dam; as well as, by the loss of sediments and water pollution. This lake and wetlands are a major and vital area for fish and invertebrate reproduction for the Mekong River basin. However, these issues are diminishing productivity, reproduction and recruitment of fish and invertebrates populations. Migratory birds that use wetlands for roosting are also heavily impacted by loss of habitats.

Of great concern, is the significant decrease of fish stocks and aquatic plants
in the Tonle Sap Lake and wetlands – as a consequence of upstream dams.
Fish and aquatic plants are the main food sources that sustain
over 20,000 of the poorest people in Cambodia.

The loss of Food security is conducive to a Humanitarian Crisis that must be avoided at all costs (Local Chiefs of Tonle Sap Villages, Personal communication (2016); Arias, M.E. et al. (2014)

In regard to the impact of Climate Change on Stream-flows in the Mekong River, this was investigated by Liu, KT et al. (2016) using remote sensing – via Satellite Radar Altimetry. They found melting glaciers in the Tibetan Plateau and a downward trend in rain levels from 2009 to 2015indicative of Climate Warming – all of which necessarily reduces the river’s water level. Evaporation and runoff caused further water losses.

From precipitation perspective, except for normal variability in the annual signal, it is observed a slight downward trend from 2009 to 2015, which is arguably caused by regional climate change [58].

This phenomenon, although gradual, perhaps affects WL [Water Level] variation at the downstream area and requires a longer term observation to quantify the impact… Moreover, the melting glacier in the upper Mekong watershed could also contribute to the water level variations. It is necessary to quantify the freshwater storage changes of these mountain glaciers… Finally, as mentioned before, the rates of evaporation and runoff could vary and cause uncertainty in the water budget as well.”

Discussion

Policy makers ought to start thinking of WATER
and its NATURAL STORAGE areas – i.e. GLACIERS, RIVERS, LAKES & OCEANS, as
precious commodities – an investment that cannot be wasted, blocked or polluted.

With the advent of CLIMATE WARMING
Mekong countries ought to be doing all within their power to conserve and honour water systens and reduce Carbon, Nitrous Oxide and Methane emissions produced by
Coal-fired plants and Hydropower Dams

The policy by China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam to rely on and open more Coal-fired plants to produce electricity for factories and other developments, is non-sensical and dangerous.Rather than facing out fossil fuels they have “decreased” only the “planned amount of plants”.

The Mekong Delta is Vietnam’s fruit, vegetable and rice basket! As well as, home to 20 Million mostly poor people! With the upstream dams blocking most of the nutrient rich sediments that make the Delta fertile and keep it AFLOAT, the Delta is already SINKING. Salt intrusion from raising sea levels and drought, have already damaged over 900,000 hectares of productive land, and in 2016 the first large group of “Environmental Refugees” (over 11,000 people) were displaced and flocked to the nearest cities… homeless and jobless!

Yet, Vietnam recently advertised it will double its Coal-fired plants by 2030 to produce electricity for factories and other developments in the Mekong Delta – mostly for Thailand and China. Effectively, Vietnam is already in the process of killing its “Goose that lays the Golden Eggs – by helping sink its own Delta! It’s doing so by: increasing GHG emissions, thus increasing Climate warming, and by allowing more Dams to be built upstream… When in fact, Vietnam is fully entitled to create a scandal and stop the Dams, given that it will be the country worse hit by loss of sediments & nutrients, as well as, by Climate warming.

If more Dams are built upstream in China, Laos and Cambodia and, Vietnam  increases
its GHG emissions through its own Coal-fired plants and Hydropower Dams … then,
the Delta WILL go under water, creating an unprecedented Humanitarian Crisis.

Dr. Le Anh Tuan, deputy director of the Research Institute for Climate Change at Cần Thơ University, and a specialist of the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, recently stated:

“Droughts have been occurring in the Mekong for years. The construction of many hydro-electric power plants on the river has resulted in scarcity of fresh water in the lower Mekong Delta.

The reduction of alluvial soil at hydro dams has also had negative impacts on the quality of the fresh water at the lower end [of the river, in the Delta]. In my opinion, these are problems that need proper attention from local authorities.”

Việt Nam must also pursue diplomatic measures with countries in the upper regions of the Mekong Delta in order to ensure the equal sharing of water benefits.”

Also, according to Dr. Le Anh Tuan (Personal Communication, Feb. 2016):

“Over 14 Million people in the Mekong Delta will be displaced, effectively becoming Environmental Refugees“, homeless jobless and hungry,  if sea levels rise by 1 meter!

Claudia Kuenzer et al. (2012), have offered in our opinion, a comprehensive summary of the impacts and politics of Hydropower Dams in the Mekong River Basin. It is worth quoting because, although written 5 years ago, it is pretty much current as most issues remain the same or worse:

“Examining hydropower development within the Mekong Basin reveals an obvious conflict interest between the needs of upstream and downstream countries, and especially between the priorities of Mekong upper class decision makers directly or indirectly profiting from the dams and the majority of the rural poor, whose livelihood they put at risk.

Main stem and tributary hydropower dams impact flood pulse timing variability, which can have grave effects on ecologic niches, ecosystems and biodiversity. They lead to a long-term decrease in downstream sediment load, which reduces the nutritious load to plains, wetlands and agricultural areas. Sediment loss is expected to aggravate coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion in the Mekong delta—a region already threatened by sea level rise. [ED: It has. As mentioned above, the Mekong Delta lost thousands of hectares of productive land in 2016 due to Salt water intrusion and lower sediments loads.]

Endangered natural environments are, however, not only the Mekong delta, but also the Tonle Sap and southern Cambodian floodplains. These regions host over one-third of the Mekong Basin population, which depends heavily on fish catch as a source of daily protein.

Migrating fish will, however, be hindered on their pathway by hundreds of metres of high concrete walls. Fish ladders on such constructions have proven to be mostly inadequate in design, and also cannot prevent migratory fish from losing their sense of orientation when they end up in a slow flowing large reservoir instead of a stream.

At the dam sites themselves, forced relocation of rural populations often leads to a decrease in resilience and impoverishment.

All the above underline the complexities of the water-food-energy nexus in the Mekong region. Many authors argue that the environmental and social costs of cascading the Mekong and its tributaries probably outweigh the benefits of energy generation, improved navigability, and associated economic development. In public media and the public debate, the large-scale transboundary impact of hydropower development is a politically charged topic. First and foremost, the main stem cascade of China is brought up when explanations are needed for any abnormal downstream situations. However, many authors addressing the topic of dam impact in the Mekong have come to contradictory results and conclusions.

Many studies and assessment reports are biased and guided by the complex interests of their respective institutions.

Flow and sediment related data often lack temporal or spatial coherence, and it is difficult to derive clear quantitative statements, although the general trends seem clear. Additional impacts on the variability of Mekong water flows, such as increasing water consumption for urban and rural areas, land use change, and the influence of climate variations, must be considered. At the same time, planned mainstream dams as well as operational and planned tributary dams in the lower Mekong Basin need to move more to centre stage. The Xayaburi case is a first good example, and more should follow. Despite the strong opposition of local populations to the dams of upstream riparian neighbours it is often forgotten that their own country’s government, companies and other interest groups are closely engaged in building and operating dams on their own territory—or are at least involved in electricity transfer schemes.

Therefore, the common apprehension that downstream countries suffer unilaterally from the negative impacts of hydropower development in upstream countries seems only partly justified. The interests of upstream and downstream countries are not clear-cut because of the economic interaction of all Mekong riparians. All Mekong countries are involved in the regional power trade triggered by the GMS initiative. Thailand and Vietnam are the main net importers of electricity from upstream countries; Yunnan Province and Laos are the main net-exporters of electricity.

Cambodia and Myanmar have large potential hydropower energy use, and especially Cambodia plans to increase hydropower development to benefit from electricity exports. Thailand and Vietnam support hydropower development in their neighbouring countries by providing national funds for investment in hydropower projects. In addition, especially Vietnam exploits its own hydropower potential without considering the impact on the Mekong delta further downstream.

Many media, NGOs and INGOS emphasize the negative impacts of upstream dams, while at the same time national governments are signing large power trade deals in the background. Currently, each country tries to capitalize on its river location, regardless of the pending consequences for the overall health of the hydraulic system.

The arena of players influencing the hydropower debate in the Mekong is extensive. It ranges from large international and national banks to riparian and non-riparian governments, private corporations, companies, supra-regional bodies and networks to INGOs, NGOs, foundations, scientific institutions, media and even to individual power-elite decision makers and lobbyists, all with their own interests.

Whereas the future of Mekong hydropower seems to be shaped mainly by economic cooperation under the Greater Mekong Subregion Initiative, the role of the Mekong River Commission remains unclarified. If its members do not commit themselves to empowering this organisation to plan and implement river basin management, its influence via the development of recommendations, norms, and standards will be meagre.

Much stronger involvement of local communities and local studies in impact assessments, the development of mechanisms to foster true cross-sector, trans-disciplinary dialogue that can percolate through different hierarchical levels of decision making, the harmonisation of assessment methods and data analyses, and an improved communication of Mekong related information in all riparian languages are only some of the challenges urgently needing attention.

An important part of the puzzle that was left out, was not as clear at the time, and that is: the Water Hegemony by China. In its haste for power over the region in 2016 China formed the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Group, which it controls. All riparian countries in the Mekong Basin now form part of this alliance, based on Trade Deals and Development goals.

Thus, China now reigns supreme, establishes the rules and dictates who can speak about what and vetoes subjects no one must criticize, such as: its South China Sea invasion, prohibition of Oil drilling in the South China Sea, and its 14 more planned Hydropower dams in the Upper Mekong-Lancang River

Repression and Abuse of Human Rights have increased in the region in the last year, with most LMB ountries following China’s Iron Fist rule.

We fully agree that a stronger involvement of affected communities is essential in decision-making. Unfortunately, none of the above suggestions has truly eventuated, leaving 60 million poor people’s nutrition, health and livelihoods hanging in the balance… being forced by China’s into a “Market- lifestyleinstead of a “subsistence- lifestyle.  Interestingly enough, the former actually exacerbates “poverty”, while the latter allowed them self-sufficiency, which they are now being deprived of.

A recent article by Pham Ngoc Bao et al. (2017) of the Institute of Global Environmental Strategies, suggests the need for an “integrated approach to establish a regional mechanism for sustainable hydropower development in the Mekong River Basin.”  It states:

“Based on a critical review of the current trend of hydropower development, it (is) argued that existing approach of uncoordinated Mekong mainstream hydropower development cannot ensure sustainable development; rather it causes negative impacts on food security, livelihoods, biodiversity, and ecosystem across the river basin, especially countries in Lower Mekong Basin (LMB), including Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam.  As a result, it fails to bring positive net benefits at both national and regional level.

Specifically, if all proposed mainstream dams are constructed and fully operated, Lao PDR is the only economically winner of billions USD after 20 years, while Thailand, Cambodia, and Viet Nam are losers, and total net value will be minus 275 billion USD.

Early recognition of the “nexus” interactions amongst hydropower development and cross-border food security, water security and livelihoods can minimise the risk of diplomatic conflicts and social unrest, and is only enabled when member states are willing to divert high-level government priorities from national interests to transboundary interests, as implementing the nexus approach throughout the river basin could contribute to reducing trade-offs between hydropower development and basin-wide socio-economy, and increase synergies through implementation of benefit-sharing mechanisms towards a win-win outcome.

It recommends strengthening the Mekong River Commission via bolstered resources and coordinating authority, and encourages China to participate as a full member. It also argues that transboundary Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) of river projects should be conducted to reflect the synergic and trade-off nexus effect across the whole river basin.”

While we agree with most of their statement, we doubt the MRC is a good organization to fulfill the desired results. The MRC has become a pawn of Laos, Thailand & China, promoting Hydropower and turning the blind-eye to Dam construction going ahead without proper EIAs and studies suggested by many scientists. The MRC uses the excuse that it doesn’t have the power to interfere, and that it’s up to the riparian governments to sort out their issues.”

We suggest that a New Committee be formed by: Diplomatic representatives of all Mekong riparian nations including China, scientists specialized in the Mekong River, Environmental adjudicators, Human Rights Defenders, CSOs and a strong presence of representatives of Riparian Communities affected by the Dams. And, NOT  based in Laos.

A good recent example of how local governments exclude representatives of affected communities and civil society groups, is the New Committee announced by the Stung Treng government in Cambodia. It is meant to address the concerns of the communities affected by the Lower Sesan2 Dam. Yet, it fails to have any community representatives, which is outrageous. Decisions cannot be made on behalf of communities without consulting them, and asking their input and KNOWLEDGE of the river, learned by living by the river. They know best what their needs are.

Summary

The seasonal variations in stream flows create a significant ecological imbalance that impacts profoundly on the whole river basin, and on the riparian communities that are dependent on the river for survival by:

  • reducing nutrients and sediments
  • reducing productivity
  • reducing Organic Carbon transfer from Rivers to the Ocean
  • scouring river beds
  • damaging wetlands – thus, damaging the nurseries for fish & invertebrates
  • reducing fish & invertebrate reproduction
  • reducing supply of aquatic plants for human consumption
  • reducing fish stocks
  • reducing biodiversity
  • leading to extinction of many species
  • reducing the food supply – of the millions of people living in riparian communities
  • jeopardizing the livelihoods – of the millions of people dependent on the river for survival
  • flooding and damaging riverside vegetable gardens – thus impacting on another source of food supply for poor riparian communities
  • flash-floods damaging houses, crops and killing livestock,
  • increasing malnutrition, poor health and poverty… and
  • reducing Carbon Sinks!

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Literature Reviewed

Arias, M.E. et al. (2014). Dams on Mekong tributaries as significant contributors of hydrological alterations to the Tonle Sap Floodplain in Cambodia – Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., (HESSD), 11: 2177–2209 http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci-discuss.net/11/2177/2014/hessd-11-2177-2014.html  
Download here:
https://www.academia.edu/20957408/Dams_on_Mekong_tributaries_as_significant_contributors_of_hydrological_alterations_to_the_Tonle_Sap_Floodplain_in_Cambodia

Arias, M.E., Cochrane, T.A., Kummu, M., Lauri, H., Holtgrieve, G.W., Koponen, J., Piman, T., (2014).
Impacts of hydropower and climate change on drivers of ecological productivity of Southeast Asia’s most important wetland. Ecol. Model. 272, 252-263. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ecolmodel.2013.10.015
Download here:
https://www.academia.edu/20957409/Future_sediment_dynamics_in_the_Mekong_Delta_floodplains_Impacts_of_hydropower_development_climate_change_and_sea_level_rise

Räsänen T.A., O. Joffre, P. Someth & M. Kummu (2013). Trade-offs between Hydropower and Irrigation Development and their Cumulative Hydrological Impacts: A case study from the Sesan River.
In book: Challenge Program on Water & Food Mekong project MK3 “Optimizing the management of a cascade of reservoirs at the catchment level”. Publisher: ICEM – International Centre for Environmental Management, Hanoi Vietnam, pp.33
Download here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/262276641_Trade-offs_between_Hydropower_and_Irrigation_Development_and_their_Cumulative_Hydrological_Impacts

Räsänen, T.A., et al. 2017. Observed discharge changes due to hydropower operations in the Upper Mekong Basin. Journal of Hydrology, 545, 28-41. DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2016.12.023.
Download Here: www.aalto.fi/en/current/news/2017-01-02-003/

Hoang, LP (2016). Mekong River flow and hydrological extremes under climate change.  Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci., 20, 3027–3041_ July 29, 2016.  Download here:
www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci.net/20/3027/2016/hess-20-3027-2016.pdf

Liu, KT et al. (‎2016). Assessment of the Impact of Reservoirs in the Upper Mekong River Using Satellite Radar Altimetry and Remote Sensing Imageries.  Remote Sens. 2016, 8, 367; doi:10.3390/rs8050367. Download here:
www.mdpi.com/2072-4292/8/5/367/pdf

Li, D., Long, D., Zhao, J., Lu, H., Hong, Y. (2017). Observed changes in flow regimes in the Mekong River basin, Journal of Hydrology (2017), doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j. jhydrol.2017.05.061.
Download Here:
http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0022169417303906

Maavara, T.  et al. (2017). Global perturbation of organic carbon cycling by river damming – Nature Communications 8, Article number: 15347. May 17, 2017. doi:10.1038/ncomms15347.
https://www.nature.com/articles/ncomms15347

Kuenzer, C. et al. (2012). Understanding the impact of hydropower developments in the context of upstream–downstream relations in the Mekong river basin. Sustainability Science · August 2012.
DOI 10.1007/s11625-012-0195-z
Download here:
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/237100980_Understanding_the_Impacts_of_Hydropower_Developments_in_the_Context_of_Upstream-Downstream_Relations_in_the_Mekong_River_Basin

Mekong water diplomacy vital. Environment – Vietnam News, March 07, 2017. http://vietnamnews.vn/environment/372179/mekong-water-diplomacy-vital.html#LGYi8RXwGk8itwVD.97 ]

‘Environmental refugees’ in Mekong River Delta expected in future, experts say – News VietNamNet, Nov. 2, 2016.
http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/environment/166283/-environmental-refugees–in-mekong-river-delta-expected-in-future–experts-say.html

Mekong Delta to lack sufficient water in future, experts warn. VietnamNet – Oct. 11, 2016. http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/environment/164642/mekong-delta-to-lack-sufficient-water-in-future–experts-warn.html

Vietnam’s Mekong Delta faces most serious drought, salinization in 90 years – Feb 18, 2016
 http://tuoitrenews.vn/society/33283/vietnams-mekong-delta-faces-most-serious-drought-salinization-in-90-years  

Vietnam warns of dire impact from planned Mekong dams – Bangkok Post – 5 April 2016http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/asean/922373/vietnam-warns-of-dire-impact-from-planned-mekong-dams

Pham Ngoc Bao et al. (2017). Integrated Approach for Sustainable Hydropower Development in the Mekong River Basin. Environment and Natural Resources Research; Vol. 7, No. 1; 2017
Download here: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/313541328_Integrated_Approach_for_Sustainable_Hydropower_Development_in_the_Mekong_River_Basin?

New body to address Sesan dam concerns. Phnom Penh Post, Jan 27, 2017.
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/new-body-address-sesan-dam-concerns

Submission to Australian DFAT – Foreign Policy White Paper

Submission to Foreign Policy Minister Julie Bishop

by Dr. Lilliana Corredor
Founder, Scientists for the Mekong. March 29, 2017

(Edited April 3, 2017)

Submission DFAT – Foreign Policy White Paper Live Q&A with Foreign Minister Bishop.PDF

Facts: DFAT provides Funds & Encourages Hydropower Dam Development in the Mekong River Basin, specifically in Laos, as per document below.

*** DFAT (Publications, 2015). Laos Hydropower and Mining Technical Assistance: final evaluation report – 5 Nov 2015. http://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publications/Pages/laos-hydropower-and-mining-technical-assistance-final-evaluation-report.aspx

Q1: Is it ethical and the best use of Australian money to provide funding for Hydropower Dams in major tributaries of the Mekong River in Laos, and work in tandem with the main Chinese Hydropower Dam Developer “Sinohydro” – while there’s mounting scientific evidence of:

  • The disastrous social, economic and environmental Impacts of Hydropower Dams on the Lower Mekong Basin (LMB) and its people?
  • The crippling long-term debts incurred by Laos & Cambodia for loans by China and Thailand to pay for the Dams and infrastructure? And
  • The rampant violation of Human Rights by China, Laos and Cambodia associated with Dam construction?

Q2: Shouldn’t DFAT support Vietnam and the 20 million people that live on the Mekong Delta by calling for a STOP to Dam construction in the LMB? That is, should Australia reject the economic hardship caused by the potential collapse of the Mekong River Delta – through the loss of land and properties by salt intrusion and rising sea levels – leading to a massive Humanitarian Crisis with the displacement of 7-14 Million people? Thus, an “Environmental Refugee Exodus” of an unprecedented scale?

Q3: Shouldn’t an important Department such as DFAT adhere to the truth and facts when publishing Foreign Policy in its website?

See *** DFAT – Enabling regional economic cooperation and inclusive growth in South-East Asia – 19 April 2016. http://dfat.gov.au/geo/east-asia/development-assistance/Pages/enabling-regional-economic-cooperation-south-east-asia-region.aspx

In this webpage, DFAT claims:

“Australia’s Mekong Water Resources Program will continue to help develop and better manage the region’s water resources for greater economic opportunities as well as to protect the 60 million people that rely directly on the Mekong River for their livelihoods. Hydropower development is vital for the economic future of countries of the Mekong Basin, and its transparent management is critical to the stability of countries and regional links. Through targeted investments in quality planning, our program is helping countries of the region build hydropower dams sustainably.”

DFAT’s above statements are FALSE and MISLEADING, as explained below:

1. Australia is NOT “helping the better management of water resources in the Mekong basin”. Well on the contrary, DFAT  is helping RUIN the Water Resources by promoting and funding Dams! See impacts below.

2. DFAT is not helping create “greater economic opportunities” for the benefit of the Mekong people. But rather, for the benefit of the Elite, the Chinese Developers, Companies and Banks. In fact, DFAT is helping HARM the economies of Cambodia and Vietnam long-term through:

  • Loss of fisheries and agricultural revenue, which will only get worse.
  • By helping put these countries into enormous crippling debt with China and Thailand to finance the Dams and infrastructure needed.
  • Through the sinking of the Mekong Delta by lack of upstream sediments blocked by the Dams, leading to Salt intrusion by rising sea levels. This in turn, ruins the land and makes it unusable, having already forced the exodus of thousands of farmers from the Delta to the cities in 2016.
  • Dams retaining water have resulted in parts drying up and damaging the Tonle Sap Lake wetlands: vital fisheries nurseries to the Mekong River. Hence, affecting the economy and the poorest people dependent on fisheries, by loss of food supply.

3. Claiming to “protect the 60 Million people that rely directly on the Mekong River for their livelihoods” is scandalous and dishonest. Instead, DFAT is doing exactly the opposite: you are jeopardizing the vital Food Security, Water supply and productive riparian areas on which 60 Million people depend!

4. Hydropower is NOT VITAL for the future of LMB countries! Other sources of energy can be used, including Solar, Wind, Bio-Fuel & even Micro-hydro.

5. Transparent management of Hydropower in the region? Really? For over a decade now DFAT’s Trade partner China, has been promoting repression in the region, resulting in lack of transparency and information blackout. Furthermore, Chinese Developers, Thai Developers and Malaysian Developers have not fulfilled their contractual duties to the displaced communities: the compensation packages are dismal, training has not eventuated, resettlement land offered is non-arable so people cannot even grow their food!

Moreover, Developers have not undertaken Free Prior Informed Consent nor Community consultation of any kind until AFTER starting the construction of the Dams. Also, by not allowing information or even visits to the Dam sites not even by journalists. Where is the transparency in the above? Exactly how is DFAT helping achieve transparency?

6. Planning hasn’t worked out in Laos as per your own report (above), because the Laotians don’t care and don’t follow up.

7. There is no such thing as “building Hydropower Dams sustainably“… This statement is OUTRAGEOUS!
Dams preclude Sustainability, as per its definition:

“Sustainability (from sustain and ability) is the property of biological systems to REMAIN DIVERSE and PRODUCTIVE INDEFINITELY. Long-lived and healthy rivers, wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems.”

Hydropower Dams in the Mekong River Basin are already fragmenting the river; reducing Biodiversity, Productivity and Fisheries; creating droughts; damaging Wetlands and Floodplains; and sinking the Delta, to mention a few!
How is this sustainable?

See more information and articles that support our statements below.

Overview of Hydropower Dams Impacts & Supporting articles:

1) Hydropower Dams Environmental impacts: BLOCK Fish Migrations, Sediments, Nutrients, Change the Hydrology, Change the Geo-morphology of the rivers, and reduce Water supply downstream and constantly change the water levels disrupting the stability of the ecosystems. Given that the key to productivity of the Mekong is FLOODING and the sediments and nutrients carried by the waters and spread out throughout the floodplains and tributaries, the reduced floods are having serious deleterious effects (and dozens of planned dams are not yet built). That is, decreased productivity, depleted fisheries and reduced biodiversity in the Mekong River and tributaries. Effectively, Hydropower is putting at RISK the Food Security & Water Supply of 60 Million people! Hence, Oz is helping create a Humanitarian Crisis like never before seen!

Please don’t tell us that the Dam engineering has been fixed to allow fish and sediment passage. Below we provide studies that show they do not work! Besides,not all sediments accumulate at the Dam wall. The majority of sediments are spread in the bottom of the huge reservoirs, so will not be going down the Dam improvements any time soon! See supporting studies below.

2) Hydropower Dams have INCREASED POVERTY in Laos and Cambodia among displaced communities instead of benefiting them.

Please do NOT use the excuse of “Reducing Poverty & increasing Quality of Life”. There are several studies in Laos and Cambodia that PROVE that POVERTY HAS INCREASED with different Dams, with Women and children suffering the most! See supporting studies below.

3) Hydropower Dams are constant sources of Green House Gases – i.e. Methane, CO2, Nitrous Oxide. Hydropower is NOT Green & Clean Energy, as advertised by China and Australia to justify the construction of more Dams.

Far from it. In fact, one large Dam produces more GHG than a coal plant! These GHG trigger more Climate warming, resulting in rising sea levels. This in turn, infiltrate the Delta and ruin very productive land, displaces millions of people and ruins the economy of Vietnam… See supporting studies below.

4) Hydropower Dams are posing a serious threat to the viability of the Mekong Delta, the most productive area of the River, the Granary of SE Asia, home to 20 Million people.

Studies’ results indicate that hydropower development dominates the changes in floodplain sediment dynamics of the Mekong Delta, while sea level rise has the smallest effect. The Delta is already sinking, lost nearly 1 Million hectares to seawater intrusion in 2016. If it SINKS by 1meter, 7-14 MILLION people will be displaced & become “Environmental Refugees” – homeless, jobless, hungry. A man-made, partly Australian funded and promoted, Humanitarian crisis without precedent is taking place now and will get worse if any more Dams are built! See supporting studies below.

5) Hydropower Dams in Laos & Cambodia are being built on Human Rights Violations and Repression. Where communities displaced by Dams have NO voice, nor real consultation- despite false claims by the governments. They are forcefully evicted and resettled against their will. Resettlement villages offer non-arable barren land, are over 25Km from the River they know, and often, have no electricity. People can’t grow food, can’t fish and have no money to buy food… How are they to survive? China says they will have to change from a “subsistence living” and adopt a “Market life style”. Promised training has not been consistent nor does it include all displaced people, leaving most hungry. See supporting studies below.

6) Hydropower Development in the Mekong Basin is focused on “Trade Agreements”, which supersede the needs of the people and the environment. The Chinese Government has State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) such as the biggest Hydropower dam Developer in the World “Sinohydro”, and others. Chinese companies unashamedly and openly offer “donations” of great amounts of money to Political Parties, Rich influential individuals (the Elite), Companies and Government Officials to push their projects.

A well known case is Cambodian Tycoon, Kith Meng, Chairman of The Royal Group in partnership with a Chinese Corporate Group: together they are building with Chinese Developer “Hydrolancang”, the Lower Sesan 2 Dam in a major tributary of the Mekong. This partnership is awaiting authorization by the Cambodian Government to go ahead with the 3 most damaging Dams for the Mekong River:
the Sekong Dam, Stung Treng Dam and Sambor Dam.

Another case is Australian Foreign Affairs & Trade Minister Julie Bishop​ (DFAT) who received $500,00 dollars in “Donations” from Chinese Businessmen over the past 2 years for ‘undisclosed’ deals. This:

  1. Ratifies our suspicion about the Chinese Government influencing Australian business & politics.
  2. Explains the joint Hydropower projects in Laos between #DFAT & Dam Developer #Sinohydro.
  3. Confirms our assertions that #Hydropower Development in the Mekong basin is about “Trade Agreements”. And
  4. We can now add: “Chinese Businessmen offer BRIBES and Trade official receive them”!

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RECOMMENDATIONS

Australian DFAT must STOP any involvement in Hydropower Development in SE Asia to avoid being partly responsible for economic and irreversible environmental damages to the Lower Mekong River Basin, resulting in a massive Humanitarian Crisis.

DFAT wouldn’t be representing or abiding by the “compassionate principles that characterize the Australian people” if it persists in condoning and funding an environmental, economic and social disaster!

Australian Tax payers dollars would be better used on urgently needed sewage treatment systems in the Mekong Delta & Tonle Sap Lake areas, to improve water quality and reduce disease.


NOTES Post “LIVE” Q&A

DFAT Foreign Policy White Paper Live Q&A with Foreign Minister Bishop was a disappointment.

Mrs. Bishop emphasized “it is very important for the Government to get the views of Australians”. Yet, the “Community Consultation” lasted 30 minutes!   So much for Democracy!

Julie Bishop insisted that Australia’s Foreign Policy is totally aimed at “Reducing Poverty”, “Enhancing the lives of our neighbours”, “Helping Create Economic Growth and Prosperity for all”... Not quite the on-ground reality.

This Submission was not mentioned. Bishop did not reply to controversial questions, and the short  time allocated ensured there was no time!

We hope that by sending this Submission as a “Paper Document” addressed to her office, she may consider replying to our questions.

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Supporting Articles

1) Hydropower Dams Environmental impacts

* Räsänen, T.A. et al. (2017). Observed river discharge changes due to hydropower operations in the Upper Mekong Basin. Journal of Hydrology (2017). DOI: 10.1016/j.jhydrol.2016.12.023 Read more at: https://phys.org/news/2017-01-chinese-hydropower-considerably-season-decreased.html#jCp
* Withington, J. (2017). Anthropogenic Rivers: The Production of Uncertainty in Lao Hydropower. Under review. Download here: https://www.academia.edu/30184712/Anthropogenic_Rivers_The_Production_of_Uncertainty_in_Lao_Hydropower
* Corredor, L. (2017). Open Letter to the Mekong River Commission. https://www.scientists4mekong.com/open-letter-to-the-mekong-river-commission/
* Viet Ecology Foundation (2017). Rebuttal to MRC CEO Statement: “Hydropower Development Will Not Kill the Mekong River”. Mekong Eye, March 13, 2017. https://www.mekongeye.com/2017/03/13/rebuttal-to-mrc-ceo-statement-hydropower-development-will-not-kill-the-mekong-river/
* Laos sees little problem with the Pak Beng Dam. Radio Free Asia, Fe. 27, 2017. http://www.rfa.org/english/news/laos/laos-sees-little-02272017145242.html
* Environmental Experts Voice Concern About Effects of Dam Projects in Cambodia. Radio Free Asia, March 16, 2017. http://www.rfa.org/english/news/cambodia/environmental-experts-voice-concern-about-effects-of-dam-projects-in-cambodia-03162017163740.html
* Lovgren, S. (2017). Can the Amazon of Southeast Asia Be Saved? National Geographic, News, March 22, 2017. http://news.nationalgeographic.com/2017/03/mekong-river-basin-sustainable-development-megafish-zeb-hogan/
* Liu Qin (2017). Source of Mekong, Yellow and Yangtze Rivers drying up. China Dialogue, March 8, 2017. https://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/9654-Source-of-Mekong-Yellow-and-Yangtze-rivers-drying-up#.WMD7X3Fb7ZI.twitter
* Mekong Giant Catfish being driven to extinction in natural habitat. The Nation, January 20, 2016. http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/national/30304563
* Piman, T., Cochrane, T. A., and Arias, M. E. (2016). Effect of Proposed Large Dams on Water Flows and Hydropower Production in the Sekong, Sesan and Srepok Rivers of the Mekong Basin. River Res. Applic., 32: 2095–2108. doi:10.1002/rra.3045. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/wol1/doi/10.1002/rra.3045/abstract
* Mousset E., Rogers V., Saray S., Ouch K., Srey S., Mith S, Baran E. (2016). Role and value of fish in the welfare of rural communities in Cambodia (welfare data analysis). Inland Fisheries Research and Development Institute (Fisheries Administration) and WorldFish. Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 102 pages. http://www.worldfishcenter.org/content/roles-and-values-fish-rural-welfare-cambodia-welfare-data-analysis

* Baran, E. & G. Gallego (2015). Cambodia’s fisheries: a decade of changes and evolution. Catch and Culture Volume 21, No. 3: 30-33. December 2015. Download here: http://www.worldfishcenter.org/content/cambodias-fisheries-decade-changes-and-evolution
* Intralawan,A., D. Wood and R. Frankel (2015). Working Paper on Economic, Environmental and Social Impacts of Hydropower Development in the Lower Mekong Basin. Natural Resources and Environmental Management Research and Training Center, Mae Fah Luang University, Chiang Rai, Thailand, 15pp. Also known as the “EESI Report”.
http://www.mfu.ac.th/nremc/content_detail.php?id=298
* Baran E., Guerin E. & Nasielski J. (2015). Fish, sediment and dams in the Mekong – How hydropower development affects water productivity and food supply. Penang, Malaysia: WorldFish, and CGIAR Research Program on Water, Land and Ecosystems (WLE). 108 pp. https://cgspace.cgiar.org/handle/10568/71117
Download here: http://pubs.iclarm.net/resource_centre/Fish-sediment-and-dams-in-the-mekong.pdf
* Final Report – Study on the Impacts of Mainstream Hydropower on the Mekong River – Impact Assessment Report. – Report prepared by Malmgren-Hansen, A. (DHI), Anwar Khan (HDR) & Kim Wium Olesen (DHI) for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam (VNMC)
– 18 January 2016.
In: Comments on: Final Report – Study on the Impacts of Mainstream Hydropower Dams on the Mekong River – Impact Assessment Report. L. Corredor – on behalf of Scientists for the Mekong- January, 26, 2016.
https://scientists4mekong.com/2016/01/26/study-on-the-impacts-of-mainstream-hydropower-on-the-mekong-river-iar/
* Keskinen, M. et al. (2015). Water-Energy-Food Nexus in a Transboundary River Basin: The Case of Tonle Sap Lake, Mekong River Basin. Water, 7 (10), 5416-5436; doi:10.3390/w7105416
http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/7/10/5416/htm
* Welcomme, R.L. et al. (2015). Fisheries of the rivers of Southeast Asia – Chapter 3.24 – In: Freshwater Fisheries Ecology – Editor John F. Craig, Sept. 2015, Wiley Online Library
https://www.academia.edu/16307260/Fisheries_of_the_Rivers_of_Southeast_Asia
* Kim Geheb’s Thoughts on the Greater Mekong River Basin – 22 Oct 2015. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YgKi8eYPq0Q
* M.E. Arias, et al. (2014). Dams on Mekong tributaries as significant contributors of hydrological alterations to the Tonle Sap Floodplain in Cambodia – Hydrol. Earth Syst. Sci. Discuss., (HESSD), 11: 2177–2209
http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci-discuss.net/11/2177/2014/hessd-11-2177-2014.html
Download here: http://www.hydrol-earth-syst-sci-discuss.net/11/2177/2014/hessd-11-2177-2014.pdf
https://www.academia.edu/20957408/Dams_on_Mekong_tributaries_as_significant_contributors_of_hydrological_alterations_to_the_Tonle_Sap_Floodplain_in_Cambodia
* Zarfl C, Lumsdon A.E., Berlekamp J, Tydecks L, Tockner K. (2014). A global boom in hydropower dam construction. Aquatic Sciences 77: 161–170.
Download here: A global boom in hydropower dam construction – AIDA. https://www.google.com.au/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=1&cad=rja&uact=8&ved=0ahUKEwiCkPeq_tfPAhXGGT4KHWk0BzMQFggdMAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.aida-americas.org%2Fsites%2Fdefault%2Ffiles%2Fart%25253A10.1007%25252Fs00027-014-0377-0.pdf&usg=AFQjCNH-yX3hDXrklldUayNt2fsPvH199A&sig2=x2fhOlNbB5Lkp7ivsF314w
* Ziv, G. et al. (2012). Trading-off fish biodiversity, food security, and hydropower in the Mekong River Basin. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2012 Apr 10; 109(15): 5609–5614. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1201423109
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3326487/
* Cambodian Contractor Proposes Logging Forest to be Cleared For Hydropower Dam. RFA, April 28, 2015. http://www.rfa.org/english/news/cambodia/logging-04282015141322.html
* Pukinskis, I.L. and Geheb, K. (2012). The impacts of dams on the fisheries of the Mekong. State of Knowledge Series 1. Vientiane, CGIAR Challenge Program on Water and Food. Available here: https://cgspace.cgiar.org/bit
* Pelicice, F.M. & C.S, Agostinho (2012). Deficient downstream passage through fish ladders: the case of Peixe Angical Dam, Tocantins River, Brazil. Neotrop. ichthyol. vol.10 no.4 Porto Alegre Oct. 2012
http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1679-62252012000400003
http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1679-62252012000400003&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en
* M.J. Noonan, J.W.A. Grant & C.D. Jackson (2012). A quantitative assessment of fish passage efficiency. Fish and Fisheries (Impact Factor: 8.26). 12/2012; 13(4).
DOI: 10.1111/j.1467-2979.2011.00445.x
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/262951688_A_Quantitative_Assessment_of_Fish_Passage_Efficiency
* Martins da Silva, L.G. et al. (2012), Fish passage post-construction issues: analysis of distribution, attraction and passage efficiency metrics at the Baguari Dam fish ladder to approach the problem. Neotrop. ichthyol. vol.10 no.4, Porto Alegre Oct. 2012
http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1679-62252012000400008
http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S167962252012000400008&lng=en&nrm=iso&tlng=en
* Dugan, P. (2008a). Examining the barrier effects of mainstream dams to fish migration in the Mekong, with an integrated perspective to the design of mitigation measures (Conclusions from an independent Expert Group Meeting). Presentation at Regional Multi-Stakeholder Consultation of the MRC Hydropower Programme, 25-27 September 2008 in Vientiane, Lao PDR.
http://www.mrcmekong.org/download/programmes/hydropower/presentationa/Consultation%20Presentation%20(final%2025%20Sep%2008).pdf
* Barlow, C. (2008). Dams, fish and fisheries in the Mekong River Basin. Catch & Culture, vol 14, no 2, September, Mekong River Commission, Vientiane, Laos.
http://www.mrcmekong.org/news-and-events/newsletters/catch-and-culture-vol-14-no-2/
* Kummu M., J. Koponen & J. Sarkkula (2008). Upstream Impacts On Lower Mekong Floodplains: Tonle Sap Case Study. AMBIO A Journal of the Human Environment (Impact Factor: 2.29). 06/2008; 37(3):185-92.
Download here:
https://www.academia.edu/20957451/UPSTREAM_IMPACTS_ON_LOWER_MEKONG_FLOODPLAINS_TONLE_SAP_CASE_STUDY
* Baran E. and B. Ratner (2007). The Don Sahong Dam and Mekong Fisheries. A science brief from the WorldFish Center, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
http://www.worldfishcenter.org/resource_centre/DonSahong-final.pdf
* WWF (2011). Mekong dolphin on the verge of extinction – August 2011 http://www.wildlifeextra.com/go/news/mekong-dolphin-2011.html#cr

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2) Hydropower Dams have INCREASED POVERTY

* Manorom, K, Baird, I.G. & Shoemaker, B. (2017). The World Bank, Hydropower-based Poverty Alleviation and Indigenous Peoples: On-the-Ground Realities in the Xe Bang Fai River Basin of Lao. Forum for Development Studies, DOI:10.1080/08039410.2016.1273850 – Download here: https://www.academia.edu/30734681/The_World_Bank_Hydropower-based_Poverty_Alleviation_and_Indigenous_Peoples_On-the-_Ground_Realities_in_the_Xe_Bang_Fai_River_Basin_of_Laos
* Corredor, L. (2017). Podcast on “The Mekong Ecocide” – 55min. interview on the Mekong River and impacts of Hydropower. http://resistanceradioprn.podbean.com/e/resistance-radio-lilliana-corredor-031217/
* Baird, I.G., B. P. Shoemaker & K. Manorom (2015). The People and their river, the World Bank and its dam: Revisiting the Xe Bang Fai River in Laos. Development and Change 46(5): 1080-1105.
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/enhanced/doi/10.1111/dech.12186
* Baird, I.G & N. Quastel (2015). Rescaling and Reordering Nature–Society Relations: The Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Dam and Laos–Thailand Electricity Networks. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, DOI: 10.1080/00045608.2015.1064511.
Link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00045608.2015.1064511
* The World Bank and Dams – Part 2: Dispelling Myths of Nam Theun 2 – Sept. 2015. International Rivers. http://www.internationalrivers.org/files/attached-files/nt2_factsheet_2015_web.pdf
* Shoemaker, B.P., I.G. Baird & K. Manorom (2014). Nam Theun 2: The World Bank’s narrative of success falls apart – In: World Rivers Review, International Rivers – December 2014
https://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/8479
* Blake, D. (2016). “Welcome to Sayabouly – Land of Elephants & Dams” – April 8, 2016
http://www.eastbysoutheast.com/welcome-to-sayabouly-land-of-elephants-dams/
* Green W. N & I.G. Baird (2016). Capitalizing on Compensation: Hydropower Resettlement and the Commodification and Decommodification of Nature–Society Relations in Southern Laos.– 8 April 2016, Academia.edu
https://www.academia.edu/24219217/Capitalizing_on_Compensation_Hydropower_Resettlement_and_the_Commodification_and_Decommodification_of_Nature_Society_Relations_in_Southern_Laos
* Katus, S., D. Suhardiman & S.S. Sellamutu (2016). When local power meets hydropower: Reconceptualizing resettlement along the Nam Gnouang River in Laos. Science Direct, Geoforum 72 (2016): 6-15, Elsevier – 23 March 2016
doi:10.1016/j.geoforum.2016.03.007
Download here: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0016718515302694
* Interview Vérité d’Anne-Sophie Gindroz, auteure de : “Au laos, la répression silencieuse” – Youtube – in French – March 20, 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44iNzzMAcX8.
* Ian G. Baird (2014). Cambodia’s LS2 Dam is a disaster in the making. East Asia Forum – 9 August 2014
http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2014/08/09/cambodias-ls2-dam-is-a-disaster-in-the-making/
* J. Leslie (2014). Large Dams Just Aren’t Worth the Cost. NY Times, 22 August 2014
http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/24/opinion/sunday/large-dams-just-arent-worth-the-cost.html?_r=1
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3) Hydropower Dams are constant sources of Green House Gases – Methane, CO2, Nitrous Oxide. NOT Green & Clean Energy.

* Deemer, B.R. et al. (2016). Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Reservoir Water Surfaces: A New Global Synthesis. BioScience (2016), Vol. 20, No.10 – doi: 10.1093/biosci/biw117
http://bioscience.oxfordjournals.org/content/early/2016/10/02/biosci.biw117
* Fearnside, P.M. 2016. Tropical dams: To build or not to build? Science 351: 456-457. doi: 10.1126/science.351.6272.456-b [ Letter commenting on Winemiller et al. 2016] <publisher link>
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/2016/Tropical_dams_to_build_or_not_to_build-preprint.pdf
* Fearnside, P.M. 2016. Greenhouse gas emissions from Brazil’s Amazonian hydroelectric dams. Environmental Research Letters 11 (2016) 011002 [open access] ISSN: 1748-9326 doi: 10.1088/1748-9326/11/1/011002 <Full text-L> <Free from publisher> http://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1748-9326/11/1/011002/meta
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/2016/GHG_emissions_from_Amazonian_dams-ERL.pdf
* Fearnside, P.M. 2016. Greenhouse gas emissions from hydroelectric dams in tropical forests. pp. 428-438 In: J. Lehr & J. Keeley (eds.) Alternative Energy and Shale Gas Encyclopedia. John Wiley & Sons Publishers, New York, E.U.A. 880 pp. ISBN: 978-0-470-89441-5). http://au.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-1119066328.html <Preprint-L>
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/2015/Fearnside-Greenhouse_gas_Emissions_from_Dams-Wiley-Preprint.pdf
* Fearnside, P.M. 2016. Environmental and Social Impacts of Hydroelectric Dams in Brazilian Amazonia: Implications for the Aluminum Industry. In: World Development, Vol. 77, pages 48-65. Elsevier http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0305750X15001965 <Preprint>
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/2015/Fearnside-Aluminum-World_Development-Preprint.pdf
* Fearnside, P.M. 2015. Tropical Hydropower in the Clean Development Mechanism: Brazil’s Santo Antônio Dam as an example of the need for change. Climatic Change 131(4): 575-589. doi: 10.1007/s10584-015-1393-3 <Preprint-L> <Publisher link> <doi link> http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/2015/Fearnside-CDM-Santo_Antonio-Preprint.pdf
* Fearnside, P.M. 2015. Emissions from tropical hydropower and the IPCC. Environmental Science & Policy 50: 225-239. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2015.03.002 <PreprintL>
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/2015/Hydro_emissions_and_the_IPCC-Preprint.pdf
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4) Hydropower Dams serious threat to the Mekong Delta.

* Mekong Delta sinks into the sea – News VietNamNet, March 22, 2017. http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/environment/175057/mekong-delta-sinks-into-the-sea.html?utm_source=Mekong+Eye&utm_campaign=0ecec10c5f-
* Dang Nguyen Anh et al. (2016). Assessing the Evidence: Migration, Environment and climate change in Viet_nam: p.32-33. International Organization for Migration (IOM), Geneva. 104pp. Download here: https://publications.iom.int/books/assessing-evidence-migration-environment-and-climate-change-viet-nam
* ‘Environmental refugees’ in Mekong River Delta expected in future, experts say – News VietNamNet, Nov. 2, 2016. http://english.vietnamnet.vn/fms/environment/166283/-environmental-refugees–in-mekong-river-delta-expected-in-future–experts-say.html
* Wright, Stephen (2016). Vietnam warns of dire impact from planned Mekong Dams. Phys.Org, April 5, 2016. https://phys.org/news/2016-04-vietnam-dire-impact-mekong.html#jCp
* Laos Announces Hydropower Push at International Conference – Voice of America, March 9, 2016
http://www.voanews.com/content/laos-announces-hydropower-push-at-international-conference-/3227049.html
* Nguyen V.M., Nguyen V.D., Nguyen N.H., M. Kummu, B. Merz & H. Apel (2015). Future sediment dynamics in the Mekong Delta floodplains: Impacts of hydropower development, climate change and sea level rise. Global and Planetary Change 127 (2015) 22–33 – 13 Jan. 2015 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/09218181
Download here: https://www.academia.edu/20957409/Future_sediment_dynamics_in_the_Mekong_Delta_floodplains_Impacts_of_hydropower_development_climate_change_and_sea_level_rise
* Manh NV, Dung NV, Hung NN, Kummu M, Merz B, Apel H. (2015). Future sediment dynamics in the Mekong Delta: impacts of hydropower development, climate change and sea level rise. Global and Planetary Change 127: 22-33. doi: 10.1016/j.gloplacha.2015.01.001 http://www.wdrg.fi/publications/
* Residents in Vietnam’s Mekong Delta risk becoming environmental refugees: official – 29 April 2016
http://tuoitrenews.vn/society/34557/residents-in-vietnams-mekong-delta-risk-becoming-environmental-refugees-official
* Dandekar, P. & H. Thakkar (2014). Shrinking and Sinking Deltas: Major role of Dams in delta subsidence and Effective Sea Level Rise. SANDRP (South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People). Download here: http://sandrp.in/
* Kondolf, G.M., Z.K.. Rubin & J.T. Minear (2014b). Dams on the Mekong: cumulative sediment starvation. Water Resources Research 50(6): 5158-5169. – 27 June 2014
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/2013WR014651/abstract
* Bosshard, P. & P. Dandikar (2014). Life-Giving Deltas Starved by Dams. – Huffington Post .
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-bosshard/lifegiving-deltas starved_b_5380336.html?ir=Australia
* Kuenzer C., Campbell I., Roch M., Leinenkugel P., Vo Quoc Tuan & Dec S. (2012). Understanding the impact of hydropower development in the context of upstream–downstream relations in the Mekong River basin. Sustain Sci., DOI 10.1007/s11625-012-0195-z, @ Springer Japan 2012.
Download here: https://www.academia.edu/20996071/Understanding_the_impact_of_hydropower_developments_in_the_context_of_upstream_downstream_relations_in_the_Mekong_river_basin
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5) Hydropower Dams in Laos & Cambodia are being built on Human Rights Violations and Repression.

* Rujivanarom, P. (2017). Drowning out traditions. The Nation, January 30, 2017. http://www.nationmultimedia.com/news/life/special/30305102
* RFA (2017). Cambodian Villagers Displaced by Dam Complain of Nonarable Land, Access to Fishing. RFA, March 9, 2017. http://www.rfa.org/english/news/cambodia/cambodian-villagers-displaced-by-dam-complain-of-nonarable-land-acess-to-fishing-03092017160301.html
* Manorom,K., Baird, I.G. & B. Shoemaker (2017). The World Bank, Hydropower-based Poverty Alleviation and Indigenous Peoples: On-the-Ground Realities in the Xe Bang Fai River Basin of Laos. Forum for Development Studies, 2017http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/08039410.2016.1273850
Download here: https://www.academia.edu/30734681/The_World_Bank_Hydropower-based_Poverty_Alleviation_and_Indigenous_Peoples_On-the-_Ground_Realities_in_the_Xe_Bang_Fai_River_Basin_of_Laos
* Vietnamese Authorities Arrest Two Bloggers For ‘Spreading Propaganda Against The State’. RFA, March 22, 2017.  http://www.rfa.org/english/news/vietnam/vietnamese-authorities-arrest-two-bloggers-for-spreading-propaganda-against-the-state-03222017150557.html
* Philip Hirsch (2016). Laos mutes opposition to controversial Mekong dam.
In: Forging a new Course for the Mekong – China reshapes the Mekong – Downstream development in SE Asia. e-BOOK. https://s3.amazonaws.com/cd.live/uploads/content/file_en/6811/mekong__new14-2.pdf
* Ian G. Baird (2016): Non-government Organizations, Villagers, Political Culture and the Lower Sesan 2 Dam in Northeastern Cambodia. Critical Asian Studies – 23 March 2016 http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14672715.2016.1157958
Download here: https://www.academia.edu/23621311/Non-government_Organizations_Villagers_Political_Culture_and_the_Lower_Sesan_2_Dam_in_Northeastern_Cambodia
* Corredor, L. (2016). Cambodians Seek Compensation for LS2-DAM Relocation. Scientists for the Mekong, News – Feb. 2, 2016
https://www.scientists4mekong.com/cambodians-seek-compensation-for-ls2-dam-relocation/
* Laos: Come Clean on Activist’s ‘Disappearance’. Human Rights Watch. Dec. 15, 2016.
https://www.hrw.org/news/2016/12/15/laos-come-clean-activists-disappearance
* Evrard, O. (2015). The silenced river – 24 November 2015
http://www.newmandala.org/the-silenced-river/
* Interview: Lao People Fighting For Change ‘Deserve Better Than Silence’ – Radio Free Asia, 16 February 2016
http://www.rfa.org/english/news/laos/laos-repression-02162016173526.html
* Corredor, L. (2015). COP21 – Mekong Dolphin Extinction, Hydropower & Climate Change – 28 November 2015
https://embrc.academia.edu/LillianaCorredor
* Laos : quand l’aide internationale nourrit la repression – 22 March 2016. https://asialyst.com/fr/2016/03/22/laos-quand-l-aide-internationale-nourrit-la-repression/
* Interview Vérité d’Anne-Sophie Gindroz, auteure de: “Au laos, la répression silencieuse” – Youtube – in French – 20 March 2016. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=44iNzzMAcX8
* Civil Society Condemns Escalating Intimidation of Human Rights Defenders – LICADHO, Cambodian League for the promotion and Defense of Human Rights – May 10, 2016
http://www.licadho-cambodia.org/pressrelease.php?perm=405
* ERI (2016). Human Rights Commission Report Highlights Lack of Accountability in Don Sahong Dam Project. Earth Rights international – 27 April 2016
https://www.earthrights.org/media/human-rights-commission-report-highlights-lack-accountability-don-sahong-dam-project
* Mekong Commons (2015). Silence of the Dammed – Missing voices in Don Sahong. July 12, 2015.
http://www.mekongcommons.org/silence-of-the-dammed/
* Bosshard, P. (2015). Dammed, Displaced and Forgotten. International Rivers – 27 March 2015
http://www.internationalrivers.org/blogs/227/dammed-displaced-and-forgotten
* Complaint to The Human Rights Commission Of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) Against Mega First Corporation Berhad, Project Developer of the Don Sahong Dam, Lao PDR – 20 October 2014
http://www.internationalrivers.org/files/attached-files/complaint_against_mega_first_corp_berhad.pdf
* Concern grows for jailed Cambodian activists amid civil rights crackdown – 10 Nov. 2015
http://news.mongabay.com/2015/11/concern-grows-for-jailed-cambodian-activists-amid-civil-rights-crackdown/
* Open letter to Participants of the 2015 Lao Donor Round Table Meeting | Human Rights Watch, Nov. 5, 2015.
https://www.hrw.org/news/2015/11/12/open-letter-participants-2015-lao-donor-round-table-meeting

* Lao Court Jails Polish Activist Following Online Criticism of Government – 1 Nov 2015.
http://www.rfa.org/english/news/laos/activist-10012015134330.html
* Few Surprised as Laos Fails to Win U.N. Rights Council Seat – Oct 2015.
http://www.rfa.org/english/news/laos/laos-rights-10292015160942.html
* Cambodian Activists jailed – Oct 2015. http://www.mothernature.pm
* Defiant activists deported – The Phnom Penh Post, 23 February 2015
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/defiant-activist-deported
* Activist Alex Arrested – The Phnom Penh Post, 23 February 2015
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/activist-alex-arrested
* Global Witness report ‘Deadly Environment’ –April 2014
https://www.globalwitness.org/campaigns/environmental-activists/deadly-environment/
* DFAT (2014). Making Performance Count: enhancing the accountability and effectiveness of Australian Aid – Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Nov. 14, 2014.
Download PDF here: http://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publications/Pages/making-performance-count-enhancing-the-accountability-and-effectiveness-of-australian-aid.aspx
* Chiang Khong Declaration – by The Network of Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces – 14 March 2014. http://www.mymekong.org/mymekong/?cat=15
* Cambodian police shoot dead leading anti-logging campaigner – The Guardian, April 2012
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/apr/26/cambodia-police-shoot-dead-antilogging-activist
* Mekong dolphins on the brink of extinction– WWF Cambodia, 18 June 2009
http://wwf.panda.org/about_our_earth/search_wwf_news/?167401/mekong-dolphins-on-the-brink-of-extinction
* Report citing pollutants’ threat to dolphins draws furious govt rebuke – The Phnom Penh Post, 19 June 2009
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/report-citing-pollutants-threat-dolphins-draws-furious-govt-rebuke
* Dolphin Report ‘unscientific’: govt – The Phnom Penh Post, 25 June 2009
http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/dolphin-report-unscientific-govt
* Dolphin report could lead to false information charges – The Phnom Penh Post, 30 June 2009 http://www.phnompenhpost.com/national/dolphin-report-could-lead-false-information-charge
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6) Hydropower Development in the Mekong Basin is focused on Trade Agreements that supersede the needs of the People, the Best Management of the Environment and Protection of Resources.

* ABC News 24 – Ullman, C., Greene, A. & S. Anderson (2016). Chinese donors to Australian political parties: who gave how much? – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), August 21, 2016
http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-21/china-australia-political-donations/7766654 

*McColl,G. & P. Wen (2016). Foreign Minister Julie Bishop’s links to Chinese political donors. The SMH, August 26, 2016.
http://www.smh.com.au/video/video-news/video-national-news/chinese-political-donations-raise-questions-20160823-4jon0.html

* Chinese political donations raise questions – Chinese companies are the biggest corporate donors to Australia’s major political parties. Courtesy ABC News 24.
http://www.smh.com.au/video/video-news/video-national-news/chinese-political-donations-raise-questions-20160823-4jon0.html

* Cambodia, Sri Lanka and the China debt trap. Asia Times, March 27, 2017. http://www.atimes.com/article/cambodia-sri-lanka-china-debt-trap//

* B.Grimm Power allots B1.8bn for Laos. Bangkok Post: news, March 21, 2017. http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/asean/1218361/b-grimm-power-allots-b1-8bn-for-laos?

*Corredor, L. (2017). Cambodian Mekong Dams – The Elite & Trade Agreements vs. The Poor: news. February 23, 2017. https://www.scientists4mekong.com/cambodian-mekong-dams-the-elite-trade-agreements-vs-the-poor/

* China woos Mekong states with loan pledges – 24 March 2016
http://www.nationmultimedia.com/business/China-woos-Mekong-states-with-loan-pledges-30282384.html

Open Letter to the Mekong River Commission

by Dr. Lilliana Corredor, Founder & Coordinator, Scientists for the Mekong Australia
Edited:
March 23, 2017

Download here: Open Letter to the Mekong River Commission (Edited).PDF

The MRC should stop finding excuses, and take decisive action to stop Laos and Cambodia from going ahead with any further Hydropower Dam development in the Mekong River mainstream and major tributaries.

Every member of the MRC and of the National Mekong Committees of the Four Lower Mekong countries (Thailand, Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam) KNOWS that Hydropower:

Is NOT sustainable; is NOT a Clean & Green Energy technology; is a constant source of GHG emissions (CO2, CH4, N2O); has been blocking fish migrations since the construction of the Xayaburi Dam in Laos in Nov. 2012; is risking the Food Security of 60 Million poor; is leading to the extinction of hundreds of aquatic species including the Giant Cat Fish, Giant Ray, Irrawaddy Dolphins, and dozens of fish species vital to the diet of communities in the Mekong River; is significantly reducing Biodiversity , and thereby affecting the aquatic food chain; diminishing the fish populations, and thus diminishing the nutrition and health of millions of people who depend on fish for survival; is blocking a high percentage of vital sediments and nutrients that ensure the productivity of the river; is changing the geo-morphology of the river; is further damaging the Tonle Sap lake & Wetlands – i.e. fisheries nursery areas; is reducing water quality; reducing water flows by the upstream Dams in ChinaLaos and Cambodia; is ensuring the sinking of the Delta by lack of sediments that keep it afloat; is ruining the productivity of the Mekong River and its Delta both on land and in the aquatic ecosystem by lack of rich nutrients; is promoting an Environmental Refugees Exodus with Farmers forced to leave the Delta because of sinking lands ruined by salinization; is impacting the economies of Vietnam and Cambodia by loss of fisheries & productive lands, among other issues.

Hydropower Dams in the Mekong basin are actually INCREASING POVERTY and Despair, instead of “improving the standard of living and decreasing poverty” as falsely advertised. It is displacing tens of thousands of people from poor communities from their homes, lands and cultural sites, while offering a dismal compensation, which does not support the people to cultivate food or to fish, forcing them into a “market-life style” promoted by the Chinese, but without appropriate training nor money for food! (Despite the empty promises by the Developers to provide training).

Biodiversity is deeply interlinked with Food Security & Nutrition, and they all depend on a Sustainable Ecosystem. Thereby the need to protect ecosystems that support high biodiversity such as the Mekong River!

It is sheer lunacy to knowingly continue building Hydropower Dams, which are NOT sustainable developments, enhance Extinction rates, put at RISK the Biodiversity, the Food Security, Nutrition & Health of 60 Million poor people in SE Asia!

As the F.A.O. (2017) clearly stipulates in its latest Guidelines on Assessing Biodiverse Foods in dietary intake surveys’:

“Current foods systems are facing mounting challenges to provide growing populations with safe, diverse and nutritionally adequate foods because of resource constraints, environmental degradation as well as the continual narrowing of the food base and the loss of biodiversity. Biodiversity is intricately intertwined with food security and nutrition, for it is critical to the availability of nutrients needed to support health and well-being, as well as to the sustainability of the natural resource base upon which food systems rely. Nutrition is at the heart of the sustainable development agenda.

As it stands, the damage done to fish migrations and biodiversity during the past five years by the three Dams under construction (Xayaburi, Lower Sesan 2, and Don Sahong Dams)which are blocking their reproductive journeys up and down the mainstream and main tributaries, is already irreversible!

Xayaburi Dam, Mekong River, Northern Laos via VientianeTimes

The social, environment and economic impacts of upstream Hydropower development on downstream countries were clearly summarized by Kuenze, C et al. (2012):

Examining hydropower development within the Mekong Basin reveals an obvious conflict interest between the needs of upstream and downstream countries, and especially between the priorities of Mekong upper class decision makers directly or indirectly profiting from the dams and the majority of the rural poor, whose livelihood they put at risk.

Main stem and tributary hydropower dams impact flood-pulse timing variability, which can have grave effects on ecologic niches, ecosystems and biodiversity. They lead to a long-term decrease in downstream sediment load, which reduces the nutritious load to plains, wetlands and agricultural areas.

Sediment loss is expected to aggravate coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion in the Mekong delta—a region already threatened by sea level rise. Endangered natural environments are, however, not only the Mekong delta, but also the Tonle Sap and southern Cambodian floodplains. These regions host over one-third of the Mekong Basin population, which depends heavily onfish catch as a source of daily protein.

Migrating fish will, however, be hindered on their pathway by hundreds of metres of high concrete walls. Fish ladders on such constructions have proven to be mostly inadequate in design, and also cannot prevent migratory fish from losing their sense of orientation when they end up in a slow flowing large reservoir instead of a stream.

At the dam sites themselves, forced relocation of rural populations often leads to a decrease in resilience and impoverishment.

All the above underline the complexities of the water-food-energy nexus in the Mekong region. Many authors argue that the environmental and social costs of cascading the Mekong and its tributaries probably outweigh the benefits of energy generation, improved navigability, and associated economic development.

Any new Dams will ensure the extinction of hundreds of aquatic species, a massive loss of biodiversity, the irreparable damage to the Tonle Sap Lake nurseries, will continue sinking the Mekong Delta, and increase the number of ‘Environmental refugees’ fleeing the Delta. Such exodus already started in early 2016, with thousands of Vietnamese being forced off their land by subsidence, salinization and drought. This resulted in the loss of productive land in the Delta and with it, the loss of crops and property.

“About 971,200 hectares of farming area in eight provinces of the Mekong Delta has been affected by salt water, Le Quoc Doanh, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, said.”

The more Hydropower dams are built upstream, the more serious the impacts felt downstream! Every new Hydropower Dam is another nail in the coffin of the Mekong Delta of Vietnam.

According to Dr. Le Anh Tuan of Can Tho University (Personal Communication, Feb 2016), over HALF the population of the Mekong Delta, i.e. 10 MILLION people (!) could become “Environmental Refugees” as the result of the Mekong Delta sinking over 1-1.5 metres – courtesy of more Hydropower dams upstream retaining vital sediments that keep the Delta afloat; and, exacerbated by rising sea levels due to Climate Warming. In turn, Climate Warming is further increased by constant GHG emissions by Hydropower Dams!

“An environmental refugee is someone forced to leave their traditional habitat, temporarily or permanently, because of a marked environmental disruption” (as defined by Prof Essam El-Hinnawi.)

New Study  findings indicate a WORSE scenario than that mentioned above:

It has been estimated that, if the sea level rises by ONE METER > 39 % of the Mekong River Delta’s lands will be under water!

“This could displace more than 7 MILLION residents and flood the homes of more than 14.2 MILLION people in the Mekong River Delta; in addition to submerging HALF of the region’s cultivated land (Warner et al., 2009).”

“Sea-level rise, combined with other slow-onset processes, is expected to increase saltwater intrusion and degrade freshwater resources, reducing the viability of cultivable land and destroying mangrove forests, especially in the south of the country (ADB, 2013a).”

On the other hand, it is important to recognize that:

Laos officials in charge of the Hydropower projects on the Mekong mainstream, are effectively the main decision makers and decide the future of the Lower Mekong River and its 60 Million people. They happen to be under the control and tutelage of China, and supported by Oxfam Australia (Oxfam Manager for Cambodia, Personal Communication, October 2015.)

Of great concern is Laotian officials high level of ignorance, and disregard for social and environmental welbeing. The Director-General of the Lao Ministry of Energy and Mines, Daovong Phonekeo, told Radio Free Asia during a meeting of the Mekong River Commission (MRC) in Luang Prabang on Feb. 17, 2017:

“The Lao government has already decided to go ahead with the [Pak Beng] project because it is a good project,” he said.

It will turn water into a USEFUL RESOURCE instead of letting the water flow down the River USELESSLY. We want to make this resource more valuable.” (!?!)

NOTE: A main Laotian bureaucrat that makes the decisions that affect the Lower Mekong River and WHO SEES NO VALUE IN A RIVER, which feeds 60 million people, supports a $7 billion dollar fisheries industry, provides water for drinking, irrigation, a multi-million dollar aquaculture industry, and supports a multi-billion agriculture industry, among a myriad of other services, is indeed a serious threat to the shared governance of the Mekong River.

As he clearly stated, Laos has already decided to forge ahead with its 3rd Dam in the Mainstream of the Mekong River, the Pak Beng Damregardless of the fact that there isn’t a completed EIA in place and not caring what the MRC says…

On the other hand, at the same event in Luang Pragang in Feb. 2017, the CEO of the MRC, Mr Pham Tuan Phan, did not acknowledge the Pak Beng Dam is going ahead. Instead he stated:

According to the procedures, we have one month to review whether documents and data of the project are comprehensive or not, and 6 months later, we will consider the project on technical aspects. Thus far, we could not give out any comment yet. After 3 or 4 more months, we will conduct another regional consultation meeting on this project. At that time, we will able to give out some certain assessments.”

The meetings with the MRC are clearly a ‘mere formality’ to pretend all diplomatic avenues are being covered…   It begs the question: Why bother and waste valuable sponsorship money if Laos will do as it pleases regardless? It’s an exercise on futility, and a Machiavelic charade…


CONCLUSIONS

The MRC and the governments of China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Australia – are promoting a Humanitarian Crisis in SE Asia as never before seen, in the name of “Economic Development & Growth”:

  • Loss of Food Security for 60 Million people
  • Displacement of up to 14 Million people in the Mekong Delta alone
  • Displacement of tens of thousands of people for Dams’ reservoirs 
  • Irreversible Loss of Biodiversity
  • Irreversible Ecological damage
  • Irreversible damage to the Fisheries &
    Economies of Vietnam and Cambodia.

It is unacceptable that this be done to favor Trade Agreements, which mostly benefit the Elite, Developers, Companies and Banks, but not the people.

This lack of social and environmental responsibility is immoral and highly unethical!

We urge the MRC to STOP the “diplomatic excuses” and take action as per your mission statement. There are enough studies that support a Ban on Hydropower Development in the Mekong basin for all the reasons stated above, and as the MRC itself advised in 2010.

Laos and Cambodia must not be allowed to build any more Dams in the Mekong  River Mainstream or major tributaries, as proposed.

If the MRC really cared and wanted to align to its core mission of ensuring the balanced and equitable use of the Mekong River, it could apply the principles of International Law – regarding the Shared Governance of the Mekong River – by taking the case to the High Court in Geneva to resolve the issues of: protection of the Food Security of  60 Million people, the biodiversity and  the viability of the Mekong River Ecosystem.

For other details, we invite you to listen to our Podcast #1 , which offers the public an Overview of this “Mekong River Ecocide”, and spells the facts as they are. A forthcoming Second Podcast will address: the MRC lack of responsibility permitting the construction of other Dams, such as Pak Beng Dam to go ahead. We’ll also expand on the impacts on the Mekong Delta, the Tonle Sap Lake & Wetlands, Aquaculture and more.

Link to Podcast #1:
http://resistanceradioprn.podbean.com/e/resistance-radio-lilliana-corredor-031217/

Clean Waters and Productive Water Ecosystems
are the RIGHT of every human, animal and plant on Earth

=============
Dr. Lilliana Corredor
Founder & Coordinator, Scientists for the Mekong
B.Sc. – Biology & Chemistry
M.Sc. – Marine Biology
Maîtrisse – Oceanographie Générale
D.E.A. – Oceanographie Biologique
Ph.D. – Behavioural Sciences
Environmental Educator
Gold Coast, Australia
Email: scientists4mekong@gmail.com
Skype: lillianacorredor
Twitter: @Amarial1 and @Amarial3
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Citation:

Dang Nguyen Anh et al. (2016). Assessing the Evidence: Migration, Environment and climate change in Viet_nam: p.32-33. International Organization for Migration (IOM), Geneva. 104pp. Download here: https://publications.iom.int/books/assessing-evidence-migration-environment-and-climate-change-viet-nam

Cambodian Mekong Dams -The Elite & Trade Agreements vs. The Poor

by Dr. Lilliana Corredor
Coordinator – Scientists for the Mekong
Australia, February 22, 2017 – REVISED 23 Feb 2017
In this article we examine the politics of Energy generation in Cambodia: the role of the corrupt Cambodian Elite in framing the future of energy production in this nation, the Trade deals between the Elite and Chinese consortium, the falsehood of Dams playing a role in “poverty alleviation and the Australian connection to this story.
 —–
We name only a few Cambodian prominent people, as an example of other similar influential individuals that form part of The Elite, which make decisions for the majority of extremely poor Cambodians. Unsurprisingly, this Elite is purposefully impacting on the Social and Environmental well-being of Cambodians, for their own monetary gain, while using “economic competitiveness and development” as an excuse.
Cambodian People’s Party Senator Lao Meng Khin, is the co-owner of the Coal Plant facility CIIDG Erdos Hongjun Electric Power, in Preah Sihanouk province. Along with the neighbouring Coal plant owned by Malaysia’s Leader Universal Holdings, both coal-powered plants tripled the energy output in 2016 compared to that in 2014. This is not just a business venture, nor is it good news, as it means that a lot more coal was burnt and therefore, Cambodia has been responsible for a dramatic increase in CO2 and other GHG emissions from just these 2 coal mines.
ANZ/Royal Group Chairman, Kith Meng, an Australian-Cambodian citizen (ex-refugee with a very tarnished reputation for shady deals), is a close friend of Cambodia’s dictator PM Hun Sen and his family. Kith Meng is said to often accompany Hun Sen for his Health checks and shopping. Hun Sen and his family attended Kith Meng’s marriage in March 20, 2015.

Kith Meng & Hun Sen at his wedding on 20-03-2015 – via news.sabay.com.kh

We can assume that nepotism is rife and that Kith Meng convinced Hun Sen to support his move for an increase in Hydropower Development in Cambodia, and promoted the acceptance of Chinese loans towards his goal. This wouldn’t be surprising given Meng’s close ties to both Hun Sen and the Chinese SOEs, and the fact that his conglomerate the Royal Group is now building the Lower Sesan2 Dam n NE Cambodia with Chinese developer Hydrolancang International Energy.
Unfortunately, Kith Meng’s Royal group, has left behind a nasty trail of lack of integrity, and disregard for social and environmental principles for their projects.
” The Royal Group chairman, whose business interests range from ANZ Royal Bank to cellular service provider Cellcard, already has a stake in the Lower Sesan II dam in Stung Treng province. The 400-megawatt hydropower project is nearing completion after being plagued by accusations of illegal logging, forced evictions and heavy damage to local fish stocks.
The LS2 Dam is the largest Dam built to date in the Lower Mekong Basin, and is considered the most dangerous Dam in the Lower Mekong River basin for many reasons.
It was built:
a) Without an appropriate Environmental Impact Assessment;
b) Without Prior Consultation with the 5 villages that would be displaced;
c) In clear violation of Human Rights: by disregarding communities’ opposition and protests, and forcibly relocating them;
d) Despite studies clearly pointing out the immense damage to fisheries in the whole Mekong Ecosystem;
e) The compensation promised was not forthcoming for a very long time (over a year in some cases, if at all in other cases);
f) The relocation settlements are dismally substandard, with plots allocated being so barren that families cannot grow food in them, and lacked an appropriate water supply. To this day there are families in some villages that refuse to be relocated and say they will rather drown with their houses…

Kith Meng, right, poses with Mines and Energy Minister Suy Sem -in front of Lower Sesan II Dam in Stung Treng province – via The Cambodia Daily

 –
There have also been complaints against a Kith Meng’s Mining company, CLY Investment, in Kompong Svay by over 100 villagers who accused it of encroaching on their farmland. 
In another incident involving Kith Meng, in January 2016, a government committee ordered the Royal Group “to stop construction of a passenger port it was building on Sihanoukville’s Otres Beach, which it said was in clear violation of coastal development guidelines and had progressed without a permit. … The Preah Sihanouk governor is requested to advise the Royal Group to stop construction and restore the area to its original condition.”
However, Kith Meng complained about this order and refused to stop. So then in June 2016, the Sihanoukville government not only ordered the Royal Group to stop construction of the Koh Rong port, but also gave orders for it to be dismantled and the area restored. Three yachts including one belonging to Kith Meng were burnt, presumed to be arson.
 –
In addition, Kith Meng’s Royal Group has also decided to build its own Coal-fired Plant no doubt with the blessing of the Australian Government – rather than financing one. This speaks volumes as to the personal financial interests of Kith Meng and his disregard for Climate Warming.
Recently, Kith Meng’s Royal Group announced that it will back the construction of THREE new extremely destructive Hydropower Projects in the Mekong River, despite many studies demonstrating their irreparable and destructive Social and Environmental impacts, i.e. two mega-Dams in the mainstream of the Mekong River, the Stung Treng Dam and Sambor Dam; and the Lower Sekong Dam in one of its main tributaries.
For his lack of Social and Environmental responsibility and self-serving modus operandi, we have dubbed Kith Meng: “Cambodia’s Traitor‘.
 –
The Royal Group’s consistent violation of Management and Environmental Guidelines, the disregard for communities rights and needs, and the breach of government permits, among many other misdemeanors, certainly create a very poor image and an unpromising track record for Kith Meng’s Royal Group.
Their dark history leads us to question the wisdom of their involvement in the construction of 3 new Mega-Dams. Particularly, when such Dams have been even more rejected by scientists than the LS2 Dam, and deemed disastrous for the enormous social and environmental impacts they will have.
Furthermore, in Nov. 2015 the Cambodian Royal Group signed a $1.5 Billion MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) with Chinese conglomerate ‘Herun Group’ to establish a development company in Cambodia with investments in many sectors.
This financial partnership further raises the question about the ethics of allowing Cambodian and Chinese conglomerates to build THREE Mega-Dams and thereby, make fundamental Social and Environmental decisions that will irreversibly  affect the Mekong River ecosystem, its fisheries and its communities for all time, and increase Climate Warming. Particularly, when such decisions will most likely be biased towards protecting their own investments, i.e. a conflict of interests.
Recapping: all things considered the “Cambodian Traitor” Kith Meng cashes in big time in his deals. Using his dual Australian-Cambodian citizenship, Kith Meng makes unethical deals that keep “top dogs” happy while making a killing (of 60 Million poor people’s food supply and livelihoods) and billions of $$ in his bank accounts:

1) #Coal deals for Australia with @TurnbullMalcolm.
2) #Hydropower deals for @HunSenCambodia with #China
3) Ties in nicely the China and Australia Free Trade Agreement (CHaAFTA)
4) As Chairman of the ANZ Royal Group – Meng peddles multi-billion dollar investments in #Dams for ANZ Bank (Australia & New Zealand Bank). Yet, Australia’s ANZ claims that it has no deals with ANZ Royal Group… This is difficult to comprehend given that the Royal Group owns 40% of ANZ!
5) Through his partnership with the Chinese SOE Herun Group, he provides work for Chinese #Dam Developers (i.e. 3 mega-Dams) and cashes in the #Dams. Moreover, he probably also makes a hefty commission from all the necessary infrastructure, electric High Voltage Lines, and electrical gadgets produced by China’s SOEs, which are part of a “package deal” with Dam Developers… or through his own partnership with the Herun Group.
The examples below clearly show the narrow and dangerous mind-set of other influential Cambodian figures:
In October 216, Han Phoumin, energy economist for ERIA, an ignoramus par excellence said:
Hydropower and coal will be the major sources of energy for Cambodian electricity for now and in the future … Coal will be largely used to cover the load demand during the dry season because hydropower electricity production is expected to reduce due to seasonal fluctuations.” He added that coal-fired power plants are cheap and easy to build.”
Another shortsighted bureaucrat is Kung Phoak, President of the Cambodian Institute for Strategic Studies (CISS), who stated that:
“the government needed to do everything it could to shore up energy security, regardless of the power source, to keep the economy competitive. … He added that coal-fired plants would play a crucial role in the future and that coal was both cheap and a reasonable option for a developing country.”
And then, there is the unscrupulous Australian Government … who is very happy to peddle #coal anywhere, at any cost, knowing it increases Climate #warming, in the name of “the economy, jobs & growth”
The Australian government’s “$143 million rail rehabilitation project” with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), supported a shady contract with Toll Royal Railway’s and it’s partner the Royal Group. This project came under scrutiny in 2014 when an internal audit revealed the ADB failed to ensure just resettlement and compensation for more than 4,000 families impacted by the works.
Interestingly, the Toll Group happened to be a publicly listed Australian Firm So was there a conflict of interest for the Australian Government? Was it a philanthropic funding for a “rehabilitation project” in Cambodia, or was it an investment in an Australian listed firm? In either case Australia had to get out of the picture when things got nasty:

“Publicly listed Australian logistics firm Toll Group has sold its stake in the Kingdom’s national railway, a project plagued with botched community resettlement attempts and development setbacks.”
In addition, through its Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT), the Australian government has also been involved in encouraging and funding Hydropower projects in the Mekong Basin (specifically in Laos). Moreover, as it is clearly and unashamedly advertised in DFAT’s website, such Hydropower projects were executed in partnership with the world’s Number ONE  Chinese Dam Developer SynoHydro. This kind of arrangement clearly supports Australia’s  CHaAFTA Trade Agreement with China, with total disregard both for the devastating social implications for thousands of Laotians, as well, a disregard for the ecological welfare of important Mekong tributary rivers.
(Then again, the lack of social and environmental concern on the part of Australia is nothing new, as judged by the dismal decisions taken by the government regarding the Aboriginal People, and the environment, including: increased deforestation, despite the country being a vast desert, and meters of salt advancing from the desert and deteriorating the land; mismanagement of main rivers  and Wetlands (Murray-Darling River Basin); giving lots of permits for Fracking in private properties despite the protests by land-owners; and, despite demonstrated methane pollution of surface waters (Condamine River) and the Artesian Basin; and of course, giving permission to ADANI, an Indian Company with a worse record than the Royal Group, to build the largest coal mine in the southern hemisphere, and a number of ports for coal shipment,  next to the Great Barrier Reef. Plus planning a series of Coal-fired Plants in Australia, despite signing COP 21 and COP 22, and all the promises the Australian Government has made, but couldn’t care less about!)

Australia’s Mekong Water Resources Program will continue to help develop and better manage the region’s water resources for greater economic opportunities as well as to protect the 60 million people ... [ED. False!] … that rely directly on the Mekong River for their livelihoods. Hydropower development is vital for the economic future of countries of the Mekong Basin, and its transparent management is critical to the stability of countries and regional links. Through targeted investments in quality planning, our program is helping countries of the region build hydropower dams sustainably.”

Such a statement is the epitome of double-standards and falsehood! Australia’s interest in the Mekong region is clearly one of “Trade Agreements” = where to get profits!
The very principle of Dams as walls that block a river is “unsustainableper se.
“In ecology, sustainability (from sustain and ability) is the property of biological systems to remain diverse and productive indefinitely. Long-lived and healthy wetlands and forests are examples of sustainable biological systems. In more general terms, sustainability is the endurance of systems and processes. The organizing principle for sustainability is sustainable development, which includes the four interconnected domains: ecology, economics, politics and culture.” (Wikipedia)
We clarify that we don’t have an issue with Australia boosting its economy through Trade Agreements – if these were for the benefit of all. What we have an issue with is that those AustralianTrade Agreements are neither sustainable, nor socially ethical!Dispossessing 60 million people of their FOOD SUPPLY and WATER SUPPLY through the construction of #Dams, encouraging the displacement of tens of thousands of poor people to substandard re-settlements, and increasing their level of poverty is not only unethical but immoral.
If we add that:
1) Hydropower Dams have been confirmed to be constant sources of Green House Gas emissions of the worse kind (i.e. CO2, Methane and Nitrous Oxide) responsible for increasing Climate Warming; and
2) The mining, selling and burning of Australian COAL is guaranteeing further unsustainable Climate Warming.
In this light, Australia’s economic policies, international investments and Trade Agreements, are clearly highly irresponsible, and verge on Criminal!
Moreover, studies on the economic trade-offs between the economic benefits of Hydropower development in the LMB and the irreversible negative impacts on the food supply and livelihoods of millions of poor people, have found that:
“there could be a reversal of the Net Present Value (NPV) estimates of the scenarios from a positive $33 billion to negative $274 billion.”
—————
In summary, irreparable damage to the Mekong River Basin environment and its social structure is taking place at break-neck speed. That is, vital resources (i.e. Food and Water Supply) that support and feed 60 Million poor people in the Mekong Basin are being jeopardized by: Conglomerates, Developers, Banks, corrupt politicians, The Elite, distorted Foreign Aid programs and even NGOs, such as Oxfam Australia – all in the name of Poverty reduction, Economic Development & Growth.
The in ground reality is that poverty has increased, communities that were once self-sufficient have been uprooted and displaced, now have a much lower standard of living and live in despair.

Relocation scheme village for displaced communities by the Lower Sesan2 Dam in the Srepok River, Cambodia

The Chinese plan for the Mekong Region was recently stated as: “Communities in the Mekong will stop “subsistence living” and will enter a “market-life”…
Kuenzer C., et al. (2012) described the impacts of Hydropower development and the interests of the local elite in the Mekong region clearly:
“It is not nations that are the winners or losers in the hydropower schemes in the Mekong, but rather parts of the riparian population: a few influential and powerful elites versus the large mass of rural poor.
Examining hydropower development within the Mekong Basin reveals an obvious conflict interest between the needs of upstream and downstream countries, and especially between the priorities of Mekong upper class decision makers directly or indirectly profiting from the dams and the majority of the rural poor, whose livelihood they put at risk.
Main stem and tributary hydropower dams impact flood-pulse timing variability, which can have grave effects on ecologic niches, ecosystems and biodiversity. They lead toa long-term decrease in downstream sediment load, which reduces the nutritious load to plains, wetlands and agricultural areas.
Sediment loss is expected to aggravate coastal erosion and saltwater intrusion in the Mekong delta—a region already threatened by sea level rise. Endangered natural environments are, however, not only the Mekong delta, but also the Tonle Sap and southern Cambodian floodplains. These regions host over one-third of the Mekong Basin population, which depends heavily onfish catch as a source of daily protein.
Migrating fish will, however, be hindered on their pathway by hundreds of metres of high concrete walls. Fish ladders on such constructions have proven to be mostly inadequate in design, and also cannot prevent migratory fish from losing their sense of orientation when they end up in a slow flowing large reservoir instead of a stream. At the dam sites themselves, forced relocation of rural populations often leads to a decrease in resilience and impoverishment.
All the above underline the complexities of the water-food-energy nexus in the Mekong region. Many authors argue that the environmental and social costs of cascading the Mekong and its tributaries probably outweigh the benefits of energy generation, improved navigability, and associated economic development.
The latest study by Manorom, K, Baird, I.G. & Shoemaker, B. (2017),   clearly found that the World Bank’s Hydropower-based Poverty Alleviation is far from reality for Indigenous Peoples in the Xe Bang Fai River Basin of Lao.
“In redefining dams as a vehicle for poverty alleviation, the World Bank has pointed to the purported success of one of its only recently completed large dams, the NamTheun 2 Hydropower Project (NT2) in Laos, as providing justification for this move.

NTPC, the World Bank, and the GoL have failed to conduct the type of assessment or mitigation and compensation measures that would appear to have been appropriate in the XBF River Basin for ethnic Brou people, and  particularly Brou women, who should have been recognized as Indigenous Peoples.

Our study reveals that NT2 has transformed the XBF River in ways which negatively impact many local communities but especially the Indigenous Brou.

The NTPC and GoL have expressed the belief that NT2 would help alleviate poverty in rural communities of Laos, including by leaving project-affected people no worse off than before the project. However, while many factors impact local economies and livelihoods, Brou voices in the XBF Basin indicate that poverty clearly remains and, in affected areas, has been exacerbated  by NT2, especially for women. Equitable distribution of development opportunities was supposed to be generated by NTPC, and have been promoted by the World Bank, but these have not effectively improved the livelihoods of most affected people.

Thus, this article suggests that we must reflect on the extent to which large-scale hydropower development is really a means for eradicating poverty for Indigenous Peoples and other marginalized groups. Are mitigation measures practically sound or are they just the rhetoric of project proponents? Governments and donors alike need to have a better understanding of the importance of the natural resource base to local and traditional livelihoods and the great difficulty, if not the impossibility, of successfully mitigating the impacts of huge infrastructure projects like NT2.”

At the core,
it is all simply about ‘Trade Agreements’ – no matter the cost!
We call this situation the ECOCIDE of the Mekong.
It’s Criminal, Unethical, Immoral!
But lets not shoot ourselves just yet. There is still a small glimmer of hope, with some influential people less retarded and more conscious. For example, as reported by the Phnom Penh Post (Op. cit, Oct 2016):
Stephen Higgins, managing partner of investment firm Mekong Strategic Partners, said that while coal plants can be built more quickly than Hydropower dams, the government needs to take into account the amount of air pollution they emit.
“From an environmental perspective, does Cambodia really want its beach destinations suffering from the pollution from coal-fired power stations?” he asked, adding that from an economic perspective coal is struggling to compete with the diminishing investment costs of renewable energy.
“Admittedly Cambodia is coming from a low base in terms of existing generation assets, but it still seems a little odd that it would put so much emphasis on coal generation,” he said, adding that the government could easily roll out an extensive solar generation strategy providing it put the proper regulatory framework in place.”
Good on Mr Higgins! Finally some sanity amidst the chaos.
We add:
“Does Cambodia and the world really want to have to deal with a Humanitarian crisis the likes of which has never been seen in a relatively small area, with 40+ million hungry and desperate people in Cambodia alone?”
=============

Citations

Coal outgrows hydropower. The Phnom Penh Post, Oct. 11, 2016. http://www.phnompenhpost.com/business/coal-outgrows-hydropower

Hun Sen attends Kith Meng’s marriage. March, 20, 2015.

Kith Meng Backs Plans for Three Hydropower Dams.https://www.cambodiadaily.com/morenews/kith-meng-backs-plans-for-three-hydropower-dams-124528/ The Cambodia Daily, Fe. 3, 2017.

New era of big dam building on the Mekong? ABC Radio National Breakfast, Feb. 20, 2017.  http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/new-era-of-big-dam-building-on-the-mekong/8285288

Toll bails on rail, citing revenue. The Phnom Penh Post, Dec. 22, 2014. http://www.phnompenhpost.com/business/toll-bails-rail-citing-revenue

Final Report – Study on the Impacts of Mainstream Hydropower on the Mekong River – Impact Assessment Report. – Report prepared by Malmgren-Hansen, A. (DHI), Anwar Khan (HDR) & Kim Wium Olesen (DHI) for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam (VNMC) – January 18, 2016.

In: Comments on:  Final Report – Study on the Impacts of Mainstream Hydropower Dams on the Mekong River – Impact Assessment Report. L. Corredor – on behalf of Scientists for the Mekong- January, 26, 2016.
https://scientists4mekong.com/2016/01/26/study-on-the-impacts-of-mainstream-hydropower-on-the-mekong-river-iar/

Royal Group submits plan for coal-fired plant. The Phnom Penh Post, September 8, 2016. http://www.phnompenhpost.com/business/royal-group-submits-plan-coal-fired-plant

Arias ME, Piman T, Lauri H, Cochrane TA, Kummu M. 2014. Dams on Mekong Tributaries as significant contributors of hydrological alterations to the Tonle Sap Floodplain in Cambodia. Hydrology and Earth System Sciences 18: 5303-5315. doi: 10.5194/hess-18-5303-2014 http://www.wdrg.fi/publications/
Grimsditch M. (2012). 3S Rivers under threat – Understanding new threats and Challenges from Hydropower Development to Biodiversity and Community Rights in the 3S River Basin. Published by 3S Rivers Protection Network & International Rivers.
Ian G. Baird (2014). Cambodia’s LS2 Dam is a disaster in the making. East Asia Forum – 9 August 2014
http://www.eastasiaforum.org/2014/08/09/cambodias-ls2-dam-is-a-disaster-in-the-making/
Governor offers help to farmers in land dispute with Kith Meng. The Cambodia Daily, Dec. 30, 2014.

Corredor, L. (2015). COP21 – Mekong Dolphin Extinction, Hydropower & Climate Change – 2 December 2015 http://mahb.stanford.edu/library-item/cop21-dolphin-extinction-hydropower-climate-change/

Corredor, L. (2015). LIST of Damages by Hydropower Dams on the Mekong Basin. Scientists for the Mekong.
https://www.scientists4mekong.com/list-of-damages-by-hydropower-dams-in-the-mekong-basin/

Chinese Developer Signs $1.5 Billion MoU with Royal Group. Khmer Times, Nov. 19, 2015. http://www.khmertimeskh.com/news/17986/chinese-developer-signs–1-5-billion-mou-with-royal-group/

Nguyen V.M., Nguyen V.D., Nguyen N.H., M. Kummu, B. Merz & H. Apel (2015). Future sediment dynamics in the Mekong Delta floodplains: Impacts of hydropower development, climate change and sea level rise. Global and Planetary Change 127 (2015) 22–33 – 13 Jan. 2015 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/09218181
Download here: https://www.academia.edu/20957409/Future_sediment_dynamics_in_the_Mekong_Delta_floodplains_Impacts_of_hydropower_development_climate_change_and_sea_level_rise

Kingsford, R.T. (2000). Ecological impacts of Dams, water diversions and river management on floodplain Wetlands in Australia. Austral Ecology, April 2000, Volume 25, Issue 2,  Pages 109–127  http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1046/j.1442-9993.2000.01036.x/abstract;jsessionid=51AC1EC6A5CB25BA59D622ED5A02207D.f03t03

DFAT – Australia’s Mekong Water Resources Program – 19 April
http://dfat.gov.au/geo/east-asia/development-assistance/Pages/enabling-regional-economic-cooperation-south-east-asia-region.aspx

DFAT – Enabling regional economic cooperation and inclusive growth in South-East Asia – 19 April 2016
http://dfat.gov.au/geo/east-asia/development-assistance/Pages/enabling-regional-economic-cooperation-south-east-asia-region.aspx
Ida Kubiszewski, Robert Costanza, Peter Paquet & Shpresa Halim (2012). Hydropower Development in the Lower Mekong Basin – Alternative Approaches to deal with uncertainty. Reg Environ Change (2013) 13:3–15, Springer-Verlag 2012
https://www.academia.edu/3174505/Hydropower_development_in_the_lower_Mekong_basin_alternative_approaches_to_deal_with_uncertainty

Independent Analysis of the Mekong Delta Study (MDS) Impact Assessment Report – Prepared for Oxfam Mekong Regional Program, by Dr. Sokhem Pech, Chheng Phen, & Tes Sopharith, Version 1, Nov 28, 2015.

In: Comments on: Draft – Study on the Impacts of Mainstream Hydropower Dams on the Mekong River (MDS), Impact Assessment Report – L. Corredor on behalf of Scientists for the Mekong – December 17, 2015.
https://scientists4mekong.com/blogs/iar-impacts-of-hydropower-on-mekong-river/

 –
Kuenzer C., et al. (2012). Understanding the impact of hydropower development in the context of upstream–downstream relations in the Mekong river basin. Sustain Sci., DOI 10.1007/s11625-012-0195-z, @ Springer Japan 2012.
Manorom, K, Baird, I.G. & Shoemaker, B. (2017). The World Bank, Hydropower-based Poverty Alleviation and Indigenous Peoples: On-the-Ground Realities in the Xe Bang Fai River Basin of Lao. Forum for Development Studies, DOI:10.1080/08039410.2016.1273850 –
Download here:
https://www.academia.edu/30734681/The_World_Bank_Hydropower-based_Poverty_Alleviation_and_Indigenous_Peoples_On-the-_Ground_Realities_in_the_Xe_Bang_Fai_River_Basin_of_Laos
Bruce Shoemaker, Ian G. Baird and Kanokwan Manorom (2014). Nam Theun 2: The World Bank’s narrative of success falls apart – In: World Rivers Review, Interntional Rivers – December 2014.  https://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/8479

Baird, I.G. et al. (2015). The People and their River, the World Bank and its Dam: Revisiting the Xe Bang Fai River in Laos. Development and Change 46(5): 1080–1105. Published on behalf of International Institute of Social Studies, The Hague. – 3 Sept 2015
http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/dech.12186/abstract

Baird, I.G & N. Quastel (2015). Rescaling and Reordering Nature–Society Relations: The Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Damand Laos–Thailand Electricity Networks. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, DOI: 10.1080/00045608.2015.1064511.
Link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/00045608.2015.1064511

Green, W.N. & I.G. Baird (2015). Hydropower Compensation and Changing Nature-Society Relations in Laos – Search: Articles In: E- International Relations – 13 Jul 2015
http://www.e-ir.info/2015/07/13/hydropower-compensation-and-changing-nature-society-relations-in-laos/

Deemer, B.R. et al. (2016). Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Reservoir Water Surfaces: A New Global Synthesis. BioScience 2016; 66 (11): 949-964. doi: 10.1093/biosci/biw117.
Download here: https://academic.oup.com/bioscience/article/66/11/949/2754271/Greenhouse-Gas-Emissions-from-Reservoir-Water#“Given

Corredor, L. (2017). Comments on – Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Reservoir Water Surfaces: A New Global Synthesis. Scientists for the Mekong, February 19, 2017.   https://www.facebook.com/notes/scientists-for-the-mekong/comments-on-greenhouse-gas-emissions-from-reservoir-water-surfaces-a-new-global-/653410684844595

Comments On: Final Report – Study on the Impacts of Mainstream Hydropower on the Mekong River and The Ripple Effect of Oxfam’s input

 

Comments on the Final Report of the MDS-IAR and

The ‘Ripple Effect’ of Oxfam Australia’s input

Dr. Lilliana Corredor – on behalf of Scientists for the Mekong
May 8, 2016

Download PDF of this article here:
Comments on Final Report MDS Study & Ripple Effect Oxfam

Scientists for the Mekong offers SE Asian Decision Makers, Scientists, Fisheries Experts, International Aid Organisations, NGOs and the public, the opportunity to peruse the FINAL REPORT of the latest study on the Impacts of the cascade of 11 planned Hydropower Dams in the Mekong River on the Cambodian Tonle Sap Lake & Wetlands, and on the Mekong River Delta in Vietnam.

This much awaited 30-months study, also known as the Mekong Delta Study-Impact Assessment Report (MDS-IAR) was completed in December 2015 and published early January 2016. It was commissioned by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam – and prepared by two consultant companies DHI & HDR. This study received some financial support from Australia’s DFAT. 

Download the PDF documents (3 parts), by clicking below:
(Note
this is a 800 page report and the PDF files are very large)

  1. MDS Final Project Report 18Jan16.pdf (7.1mb)
  2. MDS-IAR_Vol_I-Final-Models, Models, Setup &amp; Simulations 18Jan16.pdf (22.7mb)
  3. MDS-IAR_Vol 2 Final-Impact Assessment Methods &amp; Results 18Jan16.pdf (87mb)
MAP-Existing & planned-Dams-Mekong-via Save-the-Mekong.org-Nov 2015

MAP-Existing & planned-Dams-Mekong-via Save-the-Mekong.org-Nov 2015

In this article we present:

1) A brief discussion of the ‘Ripple Effect’ of Oxfam Australia’s intervention and unethical conduct regarding the MDS-IAR Study. That is, we examine the actions taken by Oxfam Australia regarding the findings reported in the DRAFT of the MDS-IAR Study, and the significant events that followed.

We start by explaining that the Draft of this MDS-IAR Study created a wave of discordant reactions when it was released and made available only to key organizations on the 26th October 2015. (See also our Comments on the Draft MDS Study published soon after its release in 2015.)

Before the release date of the Draft MDS Study (20-25 October 2015), however, Oxfam Australia had already commissioned and organized a team to undertake a NEW study to ‘ANALYZE’ the DRAFT of the MDS-IAR (!).

NOTE: We will refer to this new study commissioned by Oxfam Australia as the “Oxfam Analysis”. For simplicity, we will refer to ‘Oxfam Australia’ as ‘Oxfam’.

We question Oxfam’s conduct and motivations:

  1. WHY was it necessary for Oxfam to fund, organize and manage a team to conduct a NEW study on the 30-month long MDS-IAR Study?
  2. WHY had Oxfam organized a Team before the Draft was officially released?
  3. WHY did the Oxfam team tear apart and invalidate the results of the MDS Study?
  4. WHY did Oxfam go to such lengths to promote the invalidating statements of the “Oxfam Analysis” at subsequent Meetings with stakeholders?
  5. WHY did Oxfam insist the Consultants Change the Recommendations in their Final Report of the MDS-IAR Study?
  6. We reveal the “Ripple Effect” of the Oxfam Analysis and suggest explanations for Oxfam’s unethical conduct.

The Oxfam Analysis effectively questioned the “credibility” of the findings of the MDS-IAR Study, and its comments and conclusions “invalidate and discredit” the MDS Study’s results as a whole.

Oxfam subsequently promoted vigorously the results of its ‘Oxfam Analysis’, which rattled the Vietnamese,  Cambodians, and all other stakeholders. We refer to this promotion of misleading and invalidating statements regarding the MDS Study, as a discrediting Campaign by Oxfam Australia.

The discrediting campaign of the MDS-IAR Study that followed the ‘Oxfam Analysis’ publication – consisted of the promotion of the Oxfam Analysis and its invalidating statements, which took place at: a Workshop organized by Oxfam Australia in Cambodia (20th November 2015), and at the Meetings of the Cambodia National Mekong Commission (CNMC) and Vietnam National Mekong Commission (VNMC) in late November and early December 2015, respectively.

Participants to these Meetings reported to us the “trashing” of the MDS Study by Oxfam and Cambodian stakeholders, and subsequently by the Vietnamese stakeholders.

This was perceived as Oxfam’s support for Hydropower Development by Laos and Cambodia – both by other stakeholders, as well as by members of the CNMC.

The Oxfam team candidly admits that its “Scientific Analysis” of the Draft of the MDS  Study was shared around and the opinions and comments of stakeholders and others present at the meetings were INCORPORATED into the Oxfam Analysis final report (!).

Meaning: this so-called “scientific” Oxfam Analysis does NOT report the findings by the scientists who did it… But rather, the Oxfam Analysis reports the opinions and comments of other pro-hydropower interest groups. This would explain the profusion of paragraphs filled with insidious discrediting remarks and the difference in writing styles found throughout the document…

I can attest the Draft Oxfam Analysis was “passed around gathering opinions” because I GOT A COPY sent to me by some stakeholders… except I was not asked nor allowed to provide opinions.

This is relevant because the ‘Oxfam Analysis’ and the subsequent discussions regarding the ‘validity and credibility’ of the MDS-IAR Study, led to changes being made to the original recommendations in the Draft and incorporated into this Final Report.

This amounts to Oxfam promoting “tampering with the results” of “scientific” studies, which are supposed to provide a solid basis for decision-making on extremely important matters – such as risking the Food security and livelihoods of 60 million people!

Tampering with the results of studies funded by Oxfam Australia is highly unethical!

Reason why we condemn Oxfam’s conduct, and deem the “Oxfam Analysis” lacking in “scientific acumen”.

The “Ripple Effects” of the ‘Oxfam Analysis’ and the discrediting campaign of the MDS Study, appear to have encouraged and led Cambodia and Laos to announce a massive increase in the number of Hydropower Dams to be built: a total of 364 NEW dams !!! (i.e. 350 dams for Laos and 14 Dams for Cambodia).

This staggering number of new dams will be built with the financial support of loans by China.  If allowed to be built, these new Dams will have disastrous consequences for Cambodia and Vietnam at economic, social and environmental levels.

2) We provide our general conclusions on the findings of the FINAL Report MDS-IAR study. We also contend that the consultants were pressured by Oxfam Australia and other pro-hydropower stakeholders to change the final Recommendations in the Final Report of the MDS Study.

This is evidenced by the appearance of “new paragraphs” that did not exist in the original recommendations in the DRAFT MDS-IAR Study. So that rather than reading “Recommend AVOIDANCE of Dams”, the Final Report now recommends “The construction of FEWER dams with site-specific mitigation measures”… (see more details on this issue below.)

 Oxfam  candidly admits that its “Scientific Analysis” of the Draft of the MDS  Study was shared around “and the opinions and comments of other stakeholderts were ADDED to the Oxfam Analysis”… Similarly, Oxfam candidly admits in its email to SBS (presented below) that Oxfamsrecommendations were incorporated into the Final Report of the MDS Study…!

Even if the results of the MDS study had errors, we strongly condemn the conduct of Oxfam Australia and other Pro-Hydropower Stakeholders, and their interference leading to changes being made to the final recommendations of the MDS Study.

This amounts to tampering and manipulation of information – made to suit the agendas of Pro-Hydropower interest groups. Such conduct is highly unethical and reprehensible!

Below we provide evidence that Oxfam had a direct hand in these changes, as clearly stated by the Manager of Oxfam Australia herself in an email to SBS radio in Australia!

3) We put out a CALL FOR ACTION by the international community to Compensate Laos and Cambodia for ‘Ecosystem Services’to discourage the construction of any new Dams both in the main stream and the main tributaries of the Mekong Rive

Read More

Read more

Comments On: Vietnam’s Hydropower Reform

Lessons & Warnings for the New
“Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Agency”

By Dr Lilliana Corredor – on behalf of Scientists for the Mekong, April 6, 2016

Top Vietnamese Researchers have published two very important studies regarding the Impacts that Hydropower Dams have had in Vietnam over the past 40 years at Social, Economic and Environmental levels.

You can download the studies here:

These studies were keys to a major Hydropower Reform undertaken by the Vietnamese government in 2014 resulting in a drastic reduction of Hydropower dams to be built, i.e.:

  •  Stopping the construction of over 350 planned Hydropower dams
  • Decommissioning dozens of older dams
  • New strict Environmental Laws
  • New strict Regulations for maintenance and management of dams
  • A review of Relocation Policies, ensuring increased assistance to displaced communities. And more.

Dr. Le Anh Tuan (2015), deputy director of the Research Institute for Climate Change at Can Tho University in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam, and author of both papers states:

The result has led the authorities and the central government to reconsider hydropower development plans. To date there have been 400 hydropower projects across the country either suspended, dismantled, adjusted in scale or forced to change their operation procedure.

Yet neither study is mentioned nor their results highlighted during national or international Mekong River Meetings among Lower Mekong countries. Hence, decision-making regarding Hydropower Development in the Mekong River basin has been deprived of vital information based on local experience.

Of great concern is the fact that both Cambodia and Laos have dramatically increased the number of Hydropower dams they plan to build in the Mekong River mainstream and its tributaries.

Cambodia decided in December 2015 that it will not build 2 hydropower dams, but instead, it will build 14 Damswith loans from the Chinese banks.

Laos had proclaimed it would build 170 dams in 2015, but recently changed its mind and reported that it will now build 350 Damswith loans from the Chinese banks.

Interestingly, this change by Laos came after the “6th International Conference on Water Resources and Hydropower Development in Asia” held in Vientiane, Laos from the 1-4 March 2016…

Effectively, such a “Conference” turned out to be a golden opportunity for Hydropower Industry Companies, Leaders of Lower Mekong countries, and Banks to cut their deals, with total disregard for the environmental, economic and social impacts of such deals on the Lower Mekong basin.

In addition, three-weeks after this Conference, a new
China-controlled Cooperation Agency for the Mekong basin was announced, i.e. the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Agency (LCM).

It appears this Agreement may replace the “Mekong River Commission” role in helping resolve disputes, and will now be resolved in this economic forum context.

See: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/China-should-compensate-victims-of-dams-Mekong-Riv-30282344.html

Our aim is to bring these important studies to the attention of policy makers and the Leaders of Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar, in the hope that they will heed the warnings and lessons learnt by Vietnam.

We hope common sense will prevail to reduce the China-led frenzy of Hydropower Development in the Mekong Basin, and ensure the viability of the Mekong River, its tributaries and its Delta for the benefit of the 60+ million people dependant on it for survival.

We thank the main authors of these papers Dr. Le Anh Tuan & Dr. Dao Trong Tu for allowing us to publish these articles in this website and to publicise them.

Comments On: Draft – Study on the Impacts of Mainstream Hydropower Dams on the Mekong River

Draft Report of the MDS-IAR

Report prepared for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam – by DHI & HDR

Dr. Lilliana Corredor – on behalf of Scientists for the Mekong
17 December 2015

Scientists for the Mekong offers other Scientists, Fisheries Experts, SE Asian Decision Makers, International Aid Organisations, NGOs and the public, the opportunity to peruse the latest study made on the Impacts of the cascade of 11 planned Hydropower Dams on the Main Stream of the Mekong River Basin.

Download the PDF file here:

MEKONG DELTA STUDY – IAR Draft-final_02-12-2015_summary-ver5_update8-00.pdf (7.5mb)

Study on the Impacts of Mainstream Hydropower on the Mekong River Draft Impact Assessment Report – Methods and Results – Summary Version”.
Report prepared by (DHI) for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam – 10 October 2015.

Below we offer our views on this study and the full Executive Summary of the DRAFT of this Impact Assessment Report – as it was this paper that the ‘Oxfam Analysis’ scrutinised and commented on.

We believe this study deserves international attention because of the disastrous consequences it heralds for: the Food Security of 60 million people, the economies of Cambodia and Vietnam, Climate Warming, Species extinction, and for one of the most important aquatic ecosystems on Earth: the Mekong River.

This much awaited Impact Assessment Report (IAR) – also known as the Mekong Delta Study (MDS-IAR) – was Commissioned by the Government of Vietnam in 2013. It was recently disclosed at a Meeting of Experts held in Ho Chi Minh City, on the 4 December 2015.

This Draft MDS-IAR is the most important study recently undertaken to address the Impacts of 11 Hydropower Dams on the Lower Mekong Basin. It is the result of 28 months of multi-disciplinary research by two Environmental Consultant companies: American HDR and Danish DHI. These companies were engaged by the Government of Vietnam in cooperation with the Governments of Cambodia and Laos, and partly funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT).

We recently found out this report had already been discussed in Hanoi, Vietnam in October 2015, but only now did we get access to it. This means that the pro-Hydropower interest groups have had 2 months to review and criticize this IAR.

This report has unsurprisingly, already generated controversy among pro-Hydropower factions such as representatives of the Laos National Mekong Commission (LNMC), the Cambodian National Mekong Commission (CNMC), and Dam developers.

However, most unexpected and shock-provoking is the intervention by OXFAM Australia!

Surprisingly, the most virulent criticism – in an obvious attempt to discredit the findings of the Mekong Delta Study IAR, has been provided in a “counter-attack new study” by Cambodian ‘Scientists’ HIRED by OXFAM Australia to review the results of the MDS-IAR report… [What?]

This would appear to be in contradiction to the fact that the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) not only partly funded the multi-million-dollar MDS-IAR in the first place, but most likely helped hire the consultants HRD & DHI to carry out this study

It is clear that OXFAM Australia was most displeased with the results of the MDS-IAR study, as evidenced by the fact that immediately after its release Oxfam decided to commission a “counter-attack” study to review it. This new “Scientific Analysis” (sic) of the MDS-IAR study in question is entitled:

“Independent Analysis of the Mekong Delta Study (MDS) Impact Assessment Report” – Prepared for Oxfam Mekong Regional Program, by Dr. Sokhem Pech, Chheng Phen, & Tes Sopharith, Version 1, Phnom Penh, Nov 28, 2015.

The above analysis by the new Cambodian Consultants and their comments will be discussed on a separate Blog (see also our Discussion below).

Suffice it to say that it is obvious that the excessive antagonistic reactions towards the Impact Assessment Report MSD-IAR have been provoked by its conclusions. That is:

“The construction of Hydropower Dams on the main stream of the Mekong River should be avoided or the Dams relocated to tributaries.”

And a long list of severe and disastrous damages, including risk to the Food Supply and well being of millions of people in the Lower Mekong Basin… [Precisely what we concluded in our COP21 article and in our LIST of Damages- see our Blogs]

While we concur that there are gaps of data in the MDS-IAR, our view is that, the brief given to the Consultants was too vast to be accomplished in less than 3 years, in the first place. The brief of this IAR was so extensive, it would require the engagement of a small army of scientists for a long-term study of least 10-years to be completed in all the geographical areas of the Lower Mekong Basin, in all the ecosystems within this Basin (i.e. main stream of river, tributaries, wetlands, mangroves, delta, etc.), and in all the topics specified in the brief as needing to be addressed … That is, if a comprehensive quality study was to be expected.

Nonetheless, we consider that the MDS-IAR study provides enough substantiated information so as to be taken seriously and its results heeded, pending the completion of further studies.

The MDS reveals the large amount of impacts and the devastating consequences that Hydropower Dams will have on the Mekong basin if the cascade of 11 dams is built.

In fact, the consequences reported in the MDS study are so disastrous, they warrant a MORATORIUM on all Hydropower Dams in the Mekong Basin until all the gaps in data are filled.

Although, it is hereby predicted that any additional data will give more validity and strength to the findings reported in the MDS Study.

The MDS-IAR elaborates on the consequences of the many impacts the Hydropower dams will have on the Mekong basin, in particular on the following issues: water levels and discharges, fisheries, biodiversity, Irrawaddy dolphins, fish species migration, loss of biodiversity & extinction, sediments, bed load, washload, erosion, nutrients, salt intrusion, navigation, agriculture, Food security, livelihood, economic impacts, and more.

The report also looked at the impacts of the dams in 3 separate scenarios:

  • Scenario 1) The Cascade of eleven dams on the mainstream of the Mekong River;
  • Scenario 2) The Cascade plus dams in the main tributaries; and
  • Scenario 3) The Cascade and Water Diversion schemes in Thailand and Cambodia.

Rather than editing such a thorough and complex study, we present below the FULL Executive Summary of the Mekong Delta Study IAR and a link to download the Full Draft of this Impact Assessment Report.

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Xayaburi dam, Northern Laos (60% complete) - via thestimsoncentre

Xayaburi dam, Northern Laos (60% complete) via thestimsoncentre

“Eleven hydropower projects have been proposed for the Mekong River mainstream in the Lower Mekong Basin, which covers riparian areas of Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia, and Viet Nam. All the proposed dams will be located in Thailand, Lao PDR, and Cambodia. There have been constant worries that construction and operation of any or all of these proposed projects could potentially have substantial and wide‐ranging environmental and socio‐economic effects in all four countries. In particular, there is tremendous concern over the impacts of the planned hydropower cascade on the downstream floodplains of Cambodia and Viet Nam. That led to a strong need that conduction of additional studies and analyses, using the most updated data and best available scientific tools, were a must to improve understanding of how the planned hydropower cascade would impact the natural and human environment and the socio-economic status and livelihood of tens of millions of people in the Mekong Delta.

Therefore, the Government of Viet Nam initiated the Study on the Impacts of Mainstream Hydropower on the Mekong River (also known as the Mekong Delta Study or MDS) to study the overall impact of the proposed LMB mainstream hydropower cascade on the natural, social, and economic systems of Cambodian and Vietnamese floodplains implemented in close cooperation with the Governments of Lao PDR and Cambodia. Accordingly, the primary objectives of the MDS were to evaluate changes projected to occur in the hydrological processes of the LMB resulting from the construction and operation of the planned mainstream hydropower cascade, and assess how these changes could potentially impact the human and natural environment in the Cambodian and Vietnamese floodplains. Other objectives included developing a comprehensive database of relevant environmental, social, and economic conditions for the Lower Mekong River Basin, and seeking Basin wide consensus on the results of the impact assessment and determining avoidance and mitigation measures through close consultation with stakeholders.

Impacts associated with the major changes caused by mainstream hydropower projects (river flows and inundation patterns; sediment and nutrient loading; salinity intrusions; and dam barrier effects) were assessed separately for six resource areas: namely fisheries, biodiversity, navigation, agriculture, livelihood and economics. Inter- and intra-resource area impacts were identified and overall impacts of the various resources areas on the regional and national economy were forecasted. Two additional scenarios also were evaluated to examine the incremental effects of tributary dams and mainstream water withdrawals.

The impact assessment approach was based on internationally recognized standards and accepted practices and principles. Guidelines recommended by the International Association for Impact Assessment, the United States National Environmental Policy Act, and the World Bank International Finance Corporation’s Performance Standards on Environmental and Social Sustainability were incorporated, as applicable. Best available input data and peer-reviewed, scientifically validated impact assessment methods were used to characterize and quantify the impacts.

The assessment results indicate that the planned mainstream hydropower cascade (Scenario 1) would cause high to very high adverse effects on some of the key sectors and environmental resources in Cambodia and Viet Nam if implemented without mitigations. Cumulative adverse effects of the planned cascade and tributary dams (Scenario 2), and the planned cascade and proposed water diversion schemes in Thailand and Cambodia (Scenario 3) would pose even greater impacts to the Mekong Delta in comparison to Scenario 1 effects. Under all 3 scenarios, the most severe adverse impacts are anticipated to result from a combination of the dam barrier effects and the reduction in sediment- associated nutrient loading.

Notable adverse impacts on the individual resource areas include the following:

  • Though low to moderate changes expected for normal hydrological year, high to very high short-term adverse impacts on river flow regimes would occur as a result of dam hydropeaking operations and dry-season drawdowns (potential loss of 10-day water volume at Kratie is 60%, and at Tan Chau and Chau Doc the potential loss is 40%). The river course of Cambodia downstream of the cascade is projected to suffer the highest impacts from wildly fluctuated flows and water level. A mongst three assessed scenrios, impacts on flow regimes of Scenario 3 are worst, while those of Scenario 2 lesser.
  • Sediment and nutrient deposition would decrease as much as 65 percent at Kratie and Tan Chau – Chau Doc and by smaller amounts off the mainstream, potentially causing a substantial decline in biological productivity, reduction in agricultural production, increase in erosion, and a decrease in the rate of buildup of riparian and coastal sites. The Scenario 2 poses most severe impacts on sedimentation and nutrients in comparison to the others two.
  • Salinity intrusion would increase in some coastal areas. Similar to flow impacts, Scenrio 3 causes largest impacts on salinity intrusion. 

  • Travel routes of long-distance migratory fish (white fish), which account for 74% of the catch of the top ten commercial fish species, would be completely obstructed. The dams would also block upstream and downstream movements of all other migratory fish and other aquatic animals. Overall the presence of the dams is expected to cause a very high decline in total capture fishery yields of about 50% for both Viet Nam and Cambodia. Tributary dams and diversion may cause cause additional impacts on fisheries at a marginal increase. 

  • The substantial loss of capture fishery resources would adversely affect food security, livelihood, social well being, and economic status of large segments of the population in the Cambodian floodplains and the Mekong River Delta that are directly or indirectly reliant on fishing and associated occupations. 

  • High to very high adverse effects on biodiversity include the potential for extirpation or global extinction of up to 10 percent of the fish species from Viet Nam and southern Cambodia, reduced populations of surviving migratory fish species, extirpation of the Irrawaddy dolphin from the Mekong River, reduced distribution and abundance of freshwater mussels, and reduced drift of all other invertebrates. 

  • Unsafe conditions for the operation of vessels could occur downstream of dams operating for peak daily power production or conducting drawdowns. Low to moderate adverse impacts are projected on navigation elsewhere mainly due to changes in river flow regime and resulting challenges to river navigation not historically encountered. 

  • Overall, low to moderate adverse impacts are projected on agricultural productivity. But within the areas that are impacted, the impacts would be high. 

  • Key significant impacts to the livelihood of people in the region would occur due to water level reductions, and increase in salinity incursions in the Vietnamese Delta. Livelihood will also be indirectly impacted due to direct impacts on capture fisheries, agriculture, and navigation. 

  • Economic impacts within the riparian areas and the floodplains could be high.

Overall, in Cambodia a national industry of high importance (fisheries) would suffer very high decline in yields, and widespread adverse impacts are anticipated in the riparian areas between Kratie and Kampong Kor, which would be most severely impacted. Viet Nam would also suffer great losses in fisheries and biodiversity, and experience potential impacts due to increase in salinity incursions.

The projected impacts are based on a robust combination of quantitative and qualitative analyses of the best available data with advanced modeling systems and customized impact assessment tools. The actual impacts may well be greater than projected because of the cumulative effects of other natural phenomenon (climate change, sea level rise), on-going developments in the LMB (deforestation, etc.), and the uncertainty related to how the natural systems will respond to the major disruption in the LMB system. Though recognizing that biological resources are adaptive by nature and over time to counter and overcome some of the projected impacts, but such adaptations cannot fully compensate for the projected effects.

Projected impacts on capture fisheries and biodiversity could be reduced, primarily through avoidance, which could include
1) constructing only selected hydropower projects from the planned cascade, and in particular avoiding construction in the lower cascade, and/or
2) relocating some planned projects off the mainstream to tributaries. Fish passage technologies and/or dam design changes may be considered to mitigate some of the projected losses. However, the effectiveness of fish passage technologies has not been proven in the context of the Mekong Basin and its highly diverse fish diversity. Therefore, it is uncertain what degree of relief fish passage technologies may be able to provide. Also, it is likely that even the best available fish passage technologies may not be able to handle the massive volume of fish migrations, which during peak migration periods can reach up to 3 million fish per hour, and the diversity of migration strategies that characterize the hundreds of fish species in the basin.

In conclusion, the planned hydropower cascade would cause very high adverse impacts to Mekong River floodplains and delta due to the combined interaction of dam barrier effects, highly reduced sediment and nutrient loading, and increase in salinity incursion. Yield of the critically important capture fishery could be reduced by over 50 percent, and up 10 percent of fish species in the region could be lost. The large amounts of sediment trapped behind the dams would greatly decrease the delta’s capacity to replenish itself making it more vulnerable to sea level rise, saline intrusion, and may worsen coastal erosion. Loss of nutrients trapped along with the sediments will decimate the unmatched productivity of the entire delta system.

In the Mekong River Delta, the food, health, and economic security of the local populations are inseparably intertwined with the integrity of the natural environment. Mainstream hydropower development in the LMB would cause irreparable and long-lasting damage to the floodplains and aquatic environment, resulting in significant reduction in the socio-economic status of millions of residents and creating social and economic burdens on local and regional economies. With view of the Mekong River Delta as a unique system of national and international heritage, the planned hydropower cascade would substantially and permanently alter the productivity of the natural system leading to degradation of all Delta’s related values.”

MAP Mekong River www.stratfor.com

MAP of the Mekong River – 11 Planned dams and those in construction – www.stratfor.com

Discussion

As mentioned above, this MDS-IAR study received a very harsh review in the report commissioned by Oxfam [1]. In our view, it goes a lot further than mere malicious comments aimed at discrediting the MSD-IAR. This will be discussed in-depth in another Blog.

For now suffice it to inform the public that:

Oxfam Australia not only spearheaded a campaign to discredit the MDS-IAR study, hired the ‘scientists’ consultants, funded a new “Analysis of the MDS-IAR Study findings”, tried to conceal from the public eye the results of the Mekong Delta Study, but also had an Oxfam team working ‘regularly’ with the team of ‘scientists’ it hired to finalise the Analysis, with the obvious aim to discredit the findings of the MDS-IAR.

It did not stop there. Oxfam proceeded to question the validity of the MDS-IAR findings through discussions – based on the substandard scientific work in the ‘Oxfam Analysis’, which in addition contains a large amount of unfounded, bureaucratic-like comments – at two meetings with International stakeholders in Hanoi and in HCMC – in October and December 2015, respectively.

In our opinion the few valid points worth discussing in regards to the ‘Oxfam Analysis’ is that Oxfam’s consultants consider that the MDS-IAR did not provide enough data for a number of topics and, did not address key issues of importance such as:

  • The impacts of upstream Chinese dams built on ‘geological faults’ and the serious damage their collapse could cause to downstream populations
  • The impacts of Climate Change on the Mekong basin and the actual Dam structures
  • The impacts of dams on the Tonle Sap lake and wetlands, their rich biodiversity and fisheries
  • The impacts of Salinity intrusion in the Mekong Delta, and many more.

We concur with others that the MDS-IAR needs more data in some issues and also needs to look at other issues of concern. In our view, in addition to the above, any Impact Assessment Report ought to investigate the following issues :

  • The impacts of the Don Sahong Dam being built on a ‘geological fault’ and the serious damage its collapse could cause to downstream populations.
  • The impacts of the Methane & CO2 emissions by Hydropower dams on increasing Climate Change.

While we agree that there are important data gaps, overall the MDS-IAR study provides enough sturdy information to totally invalidate the discrediting efforts by the ‘Oxfam Analysis’, as well as, results published in previous reports such as those produced by The Stimson Centre [3, 4, 5] – which obviously align to Oxfam’s viewpoint on the matter.

The Stimson Centre ill-advised Laos by concluding that:

“Our main finding is that the current narrative is overly pessimistic and that a new and more nuanced view is required. We have cautiously concluded that some of the design changes in the Xayaburi and Don Sahong projects may successfully mitigate some of the impacts on fisheries and sediment transfer, but this unfortunately cannot be known until the dam is operational and impacts are irreversible.”… [ED: What?]

Encouraging a government to engage in a hydropower development that will most probably result in serious damage, which will be irreversible, is disgraceful. But more reproachable still is the fact that by offering such distorted advice, the consultants are knowingly putting at Risk the Food Security and livelihoods of 60 million poor people, the economy of TWO countries and an ecosystem! Instead of this being a “nuanced narrative”, such a statement is a highly irresponsible advice by a Consultant firm.

Any consultant with integrity would never suggest to a client to ‘just go ahead, do the damage and find out later how bad it is, but it is sure to be irreversible’…

Hence, these American consultants gave “Carte Blanche” to Laos to continue with the development of both the Xayaburi Dam and the Don Sahong Dam. And pretty much convinced Oxfam Australia that Dams are not really a problem.

Similarly, the efforts by Oxfam Australia to discredit the findings of the MDS-IAR, while disregarding a lot of scientific evidence by this and other studies that demonstrate that the construction of Hydropower Dams in the Lower Mekong Basin will result in the loss of Food Supply of 60 Million people, which is nothing less than contemptible!

Particularly, given that the very core mission of Oxfam is precisely the opposite: i.e. to “ensure the protection of the Food Supply of poor people in developing countries”.

Oxfam’s deplorable conduct begs the question: Why would an International Aid organization supposed to Protect the Food Supply of Poor people be taking steps to ensure the contrary?

It’s clear that the Oxfam consultants were disappointed and infuriated by not finding anywhere in the MDS-IAR supporting evidence or validation, of the benefits of Hydropower dams – similar to those offered by the Stimson Centre to Laos.

The MDS-IAR did not provide a list of benefits… and rightly so, simply because there are no financial benefits that can possibly outweigh the enormous damages created by the cascade of 11 Hydropower dams. (See also [6] [7])

Scientists for the Mekong have recently uncovered several possible reasons that would explain Oxfam’s campaign to discredit the MDS-IAR findings:

  1. The Australian Aid Program by DFAT has been quietly funding for years (with the World bank) a project entitled: Laos Hydropower and Mining Technical Assistance: (MTAH)”. See the final evaluation report – 5 Nov 2015 [8]
  2. Oxfam is in collusion with the Hydropower Interest Groups in SE Asia. By discrediting the MDS-IAR Study, Oxfam actually enables the construction of Hydropower Dams in the Mekong Region. And by doing so, Oxfam Australia is supporting the DFAT Aid program to Laos.
  3. Hydropower Dam Development in SE Asia is mostly funded by Chinese Banks [9]. Hence, it appears that both Oxfam and the Australian Government DFAT are both supporting and enabling China’s Hydropower business and push for sovereignty in SE Asia. Because,
  4. Australia has a Trade Agreement with China (ChAFTA), which is Australia’s largest export market. Could it be that DFAT is trying to protect its Trade Agreement with China by asking Oxfam to do the discrediting campaign on the MDS-IAT study and to take the heat? This is not so far-fetched if one considers that according to the DFAT website [10]: Australia exported over $80 billion worth of resources, energy and manufacturing products to China in 2014, almost one third of our total goods exports to all countries.”

Would the Mekong Hydropower Projects and their disastrous Social, Economic and Ecological consequences be allowed to become a “casualty” of a bigger Trade Agreement Deal between Australia, China and the Big Banks (including the World Bank)?

A more in-depth discussion on why Oxfam has taken steps to discredit the MDS-IAR study is given in another blog.

We await the final text of the Mekong Delta Study for a more in-depth view.

In the mean time, readers are encouraged to peruse another very important scientific study [11], which provides an analysis of the importance of open discussion, involvement of affected communities, and the Community Consultation Process in Environmental Impact Assessments in the Mekong River basin. We hope the Oxfam team will read this document to understand the importance of Environmental Impact Assessments.

The social impacts of the breach of the Human Rights of Dam-affected communities in Laos and Cambodia – though the severe punishment of any opposition, substandard Community Consultation and lack of Freedom of Speech, are of serious concern.

We suggest Oxfam Australia ought to be giving more attention and funding to resolving the issue of Human Rights Violations through forcefully relocating communities who do not wish the dams – given that it directly affects Social stability.  

As well, Oxfam ought to be focusing on the consequences of Hydropower dams in the region. In particular, the loss of Food & Water Supply, and the loss of livelihoods of 60+million people, rather than wasting funds to discredit the results of a valuable study.

Specially, given that the MDS Study is actually aligned to Oxfam’s core purpose. That is: the protection of the Food Security, Health and Well being of poor people in the Mekong basin.

____________________

REFERENCES

[1] Study on the Impacts of Mainstream Hydropower on the Mekong River Draft Impact Assessment Report Impact Assessment Methods and Results – Summary Version. Also known as the Mekong Delta Study (MDS) – Report prepared by Malmgren-Hansen, A. (DHI), Anwar Khan (HDR) & Kim Wium Olesen (DHI) for the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Vietnam – 10 October 2015.

[2] Independent Analysis of the Mekong Delta Study (MDS) Impact Assessment Report – Prepared for Oxfam Mekong Regional Program, by Dr. Sokhem Pech, Chheng Phen, & Tes Sopharith, Version 1, Phnom Penh, Nov 28, 2015.

[3] Dams And Food Security In The Mekong: Site Visits To The Xayaburi And Don Sahong Dam Projects – First Spotlight Report by Courtney Weatherby, The STIMSON Centre – 25 Feb. 2015
http://www.stimson.org/spotlight/dams-and-food-security-in-the-mekong-visiting-the-luang-prabang-and-xayaburi-dam/

[4] Dams and Food Security In The Mekong: Visiting the Don Sahong Dam – Second Spotlight Report by Courtney Weatherby, The STIMSON Centre – 27 Feb. 2015
http://www.stimson.org/spotlight/dams-and-food-security-in-the-mekong-visiting-the-don-sahong-dam/

[5] Letters from the Mekong: Time for a New Narrative on Mekong Hydropower, by R. Cronin & C. Weatherby – 9 October 2015
http://www.stimson.org/spotlight/letters-from-the-mekong-time-for-a-new-narrative-on-mekong-hydropower/

[6] LIST of Damages by Hydropower Dams on the Mekong Basin. L. Corredor (2015) https://embrc.academia.edu/LillianaCorredor
https://scientists4mekong.com/2015/12/05/list-of-damages-by-hydropower-dams-in-the-mekong-basin/

[7] COP21 – Mekong Dolphin Extinction, Hydropower & Climate Change. L. Corredor – 25 November 2015 https://scientists4mekong.com/2015/11/25/cop21-mekong-dolphin-extinction-hydropower-climate-change/

[8] Laos Hydropower and Mining Technical Assistance: final evaluation report – 5 Nov 2015
http://dfat.gov.au/about-us/publications/Pages/laos-hydrpower-and-mining-technical-assistance-final-evaluation-report.aspx

[9] Chinese State-Owned Enterprise Investment in Mekong Hydropower: Political and Economic Drivers and Their Implications across the Water, Energy, Food Nexus – 18 May 2015
http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/7/11/6269

[10] Australian Government’s – Department of Foreign Affairs & Trade (DFAT) – www.dfat.gov.au

[11] MPE-MEKONG EIA BRIEFING: Environmental Impact Assessment Comparative Analysis In Lower Mekong Countries. Baird, M & R.Frankel (2015)
http://www.pactworld.org/sites/default/files/local-updates-files/MPE_Mekong_EIA_Briefing_Final.pdf

More References

Media Kit on the Xayaburi Dam – Compilation of information by International Rivers
http://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/media-kit-on-the-xayaburi-dam-3412

Media Kit on the Don Sahong Dam
http://www.internationalrivers.org/resources/media-kit-on-the-don-sahong-dam-8103

WWF – The Don Sahong Dam And The Mekong Dolphin – February 2014
http://d2ouvy59p0dg6k.cloudfront.net/downloads/donsahong_dolphin_lr_feb2014.pdf

Fisheries of the rivers of Southeast Asia – Chapter 3.24 – Welcomme, R.L. et al. (2015) – In: Freshwater Fisheries Ecology – Editor John F. Craig, Sept. 2015, Wiley Online Library
https://www.academia.edu/16307260/Fisheries_of_the_Rivers_of_Southeast_Asia

Fisheries Bioecology At The Khone Falls (Mekong River, Southern Laos). Baran, E., I.G. Baird & G. Cans (2005) http://pubs.iclarm.net/resource_centre/Baran%20Baird%20Cans%202005%20Khone%20Falls%20fisheries.pdf

Summary Of Scientific Reviews From Three International Fish Passage Experts On The Don Sahong Dam EIA and Technical Reports Related To Project Design And Mitigation Measures (Feb. 2014) www.cambodia.panda.org

The Don Sahong Dam: Potential Impacts on Regional Fish Migrations, Livelihoods and Human Health. Ian G. Baird (2009)
http://asiapacific.anu.edu.au/newmandala/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/Baird-Don-Sahong-FINAL-lowres.pdf

Lower Sesan 2 Dam – Compilation of Information by International Rivers
http://www.internationalrivers.org/campaigns/lower-sesan-2-dam

Lower Sesan 2 (LS2) Hydropower Project – Compilation of Information by Mekong Watch
http://www.mekongwatch.org/english/country/cambodia/LS2/index.html

Humans Use Way More Water Than We Thought. Patrick Kiger, News Discovery – 10 December 2015
http://news.discovery.com/earth/humans-use-way-more-water-than-we-thought-151210.htm

WWF – Summary Of Scientific Reviews from Three International Fish Passage Experts on the Don Sahong Dam EIA and Technical Reports Related to Project Design And Mitigation Measures – 12 March 2014 http://d2ouvy59p0dg6k.cloudfront.net/downloads/wwf_scientific_review_by_3_fish_passage_experts_finalrevised12mar.pdf

Challenges facing the Mekong’s inland fisheries highlighted at the 2015 China-ASEAN Environmental Cooperation Forum in Nanning, China. Agus Nugroho – 30 Sept 2015
http://sumernet.org/content/challenges-facing-mekong-s-inland-fisheries-highlighted-2015-china-asean-environmental

Shrinking and Sinking Deltas: Major role of Dams in delta subsidence and Effective Sea Level Rise. Dandekar, P. & H. Thakkar (2014)
Download here: http://sandrp.in/ SANDRP (South Asia Network on Dams, Rivers and People)

Life-Giving Deltas Starved by Dams. Bosshard, P. & P. Dandikar, 2014
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-bosshard/lifegiving-deltas starved_b_5380336.html?ir=Australia

Modern Misconceptions about Hydropower. Nguyen Huu Thien (2014), Compiled by GreenID & Vietnam River Networks, Hanoi, Vietnam,14pp.

Hydropower and Social Conflict in Vietnam: Lessons For Myanmar. Trang Do & Elliot Brennan, Institute for Security & Development Policy, Policy Brief No. 187- 11 December 2015
http://www.isdp.eu/images/stories/isdp-main-pdf/2015-do-brennan-hydropower-social-conflict-vietnam-lessons-for-myanmar.pdf

Rescaling and Reordering Nature–Society Relations: The Nam Theun 2 Hydropower Dam 
and Laos–Thailand Electricity Networks. Baird, I.G. & N. Quastel (2015), Annals of the Association of American Geographers, DOI: 10.1080/00045608.2015.1064511 https://www.academia.edu/15067830/Rescaling_and_Reordering_Nature_Society_Relations_The_Nam_Theun_2_Hydropower_Dam_and_Laos_Thailand_Electricity_Networks

Does the World Bank’s “Success Story” on Dams Still Hold Water? Peter Bosshard – 3 Oct. 2015
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/peter-bosshard/does-the-world-banks-succ_b_8234360.html

Improved Communication Benefits Resettled Communities in Lao PDR https://wle.cgiar.org/content/improved-communication-benefits-resettled-communities-lao-pdr

Mekong Region’s Wetlands at Risk from Mega Infrastructure Projects, Environmental Groups Warn Delegates to Ramsar Meeting. WWF Cambodia – 30 October 2014
http://cambodia.panda.org/?232130/environmental-groups-warn-delegates-to-ramsar-meeting

Water-Energy-Food Nexus in a Transboundary River Basin: The Case of Tonle Sap Lake, Mekong River Basin. Keskinen, M. et al. (2015), Water, 7 (10), 5416-5436; doi:10.3390/w7105416
http://www.mdpi.com/2073-4441/7/10/5416/htm

Stanford scientists solve mystery of arsenic release into groundwater. Ker Than – Stanford Report, 4 December 2015
http://news.stanford.edu/news/2015/december/arsenic-groundwater-bacteria-120415.html

Vietnamese Plea to Thailand: Don’t Divert the Mekong – 24 August 2015
http://www.nature.org.vn/en/2015/08/vietnamese-plea-to-thailand-dont-divert-the-mekong/

Global Witness report Deadly Environment –April 2014 https://www.globalwitness.org/campaigns/environmental-activists/deadly-environment/

Chiang Khong Declaration, by The Network of Thai People in Eight Mekong Provinces – 14 March 2014
http://www.mymekong.org/mymekong/?cat=15

More than a quarter of a million people say NO to Don Sahong Dam – 11 Sept. 2014
http://wwf.panda.org/?228618/More-than-a-quarter-of-a-million-people-say-no-to-Don-Sahong-dam

Silence of the Dammed – Missing voices in Don Sahong – 12 July 2015
http://www.mekongcommons.org/silence-of-the-dammed/

Few Surprised as Laos Fails to Win U.N. Rights Council Seat – Oct 2015
http://www.rfa.org/english/news/laos/laos-rights-10292015160942.html

Lao Court Jails Polish Activist Following Online Criticism of Government – 1 November 2015
http://www.rfa.org/english/news/laos/activist-10012015134330.html

Thailand’s electricity utility may be complicit in human rights violations in Myanmar’s Salween dams – 11 June 2015
http://www.mekongcommons.org/thailands-electricity-utility-may-be-complicit-in-human-rights-violations-in-myanmars-salween-dams/

Concern grows for jailed Cambodian activists amid civil rights crackdown – 10 Nov. 2015 http://news.mongabay.com/2015/11/concern-grows-for-jailed-cambodian-activists-amid-civil-rights-crackdown/

The UN Human Rights and Environment Expert Should Focus on Conservation Refugees and FPIC, EarthRights International – 5 Nov 2015
http://www.earthrights.org/blog/un-human-rights-and-environment-expert-should-focus-conservation-refugees-and-fpic

Submission of Earth Rights International to John Knox, United Nations Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment. Harris, M. et al. (2015).
http://d2zyt4oqqla0dw.cloudfront.net/cdn/farfuture/CNFzgn8jnrmA5WSXZS4jD7a6dFp8ByrXDAEEeMHuaa4/mtime:1446740829/sites/default/files/eri_submission_to_srhre.2015-10-30.pdf

Transboundary water governance and climate change adaptation: International law, policy guidelines and best practice application. Rieu-Clarke, A. et al. (2015)- UNESCO 2015 – ISBN 978-92-3-100135-2
http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0023/002356/235678E.pdf

Greenhouse Gas Emissions from Hydroelectric Dams – NUMEROUS Articles. See: Philip M. Fearnside – Website – http://philip.inpa.gov.br

Fearnside, P.M. – LISTS of articles on Emissions by Hydroelectric Dams – MULTIPLE ARTICLES by many authors, in several languages:
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/LISTAS%20POR%20ASSUNTO-L.htm#Hydroelectric_dams

Fearnside, P.M. 2015. Tropical Hydropower in the Clean Development Mechanism: Brazil’s Santo Antônio Dam as an example of the need for change. Climatic Change 131(4): 575-589. doi: 10.1007/s10584-015-1393-3 <Preprint-L> <Publisher link> <doi link>
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/2015/Fearnside-CDM-Santo_Antonio-Preprint.pdf

Fearnside, P.M. 2015. Emissions from tropical hydropower and the IPCC. Environmental Science & Policy 50: 225-239. doi: 10.1016/j.envsci.2015.03.002 <Preprint-L>
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/2015/Hydro_emissions_and_the_IPCC-Preprint.pdf

Fearnside, P.M. 2015. Greenhouse gas emissions from hydroelectric dams in tropical forests. pp. 428-438 In: J. Lehr & J. Keeley (eds.) Alternative Energy and Shale Gas Encyclopedia. John Wiley & Sons Publishers, New York, E.U.A. 880 pp. ISBN: 978-0-470-89441-5 (no prelo). http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470894415.html <Preprint-> http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/2015/FearnsideGreenhouse_gas_Emissions_from_Dams-Wiley-Preprint.pdf >

Fearnside, P.M. 2013. Credit for climate mitigation by Amazonian dams: Loopholes and impacts illustrated by Brazil’s Jirau Hydroelectric Project. Carbon Management 4(6): 681-696. doi: 10.4155/CMT.13.57 http://www.future-science.com/doi/abs/10.4155/cmt.13.57
http://www.future-science.com/doi/abs/10.4155/cmt.13.57 <Preprint-L> <Publisher link>
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/2013/Jirau_CDM_Carbon_Management-Preprint.pdf

Fearnside, P.M. 2013. Climate change and the Amazon: Tropical dams emit greenhouse gases. ReVista, Harvard Review of Latin America 12(2): 30-31. ISSN: 1541–1443. <Full text-L> http://revista.drclas.harvard.edu/book/climate-change-and-amazon http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/2013/Tropical%20dams%20emit%20GHGs_harvard_edu_publications_revistaonline_2013.pdf

Fearnside, P.M. & S. Pueyo.. 2012. Underestimating greenhouse-gas emissions from tropical dams. Nature Climate Change 2(6): 382–384. doi:10.1038/nclimate1540 http://www.nature.com/nclimate/journal/v2/n6/full/nclimate1540.html http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/2012/Fearnside_&_Pueyo_Hydro_Nature_Climate_Change_Preprint.pdf

Fearnside, P.M. 2011. Methane emissions from hydroelectric dams. Science (E-Letter 28 July 2011), http://www.sciencemag.org/content/331/6013/50.short/reply#sci_el_14254 <Full text-L>
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/2011/Methane%20Emissions%20from%20Hydroelectric%20Dams.pdf

Fearnside, P.M. 2008. Hidrelétricas como “fábricas de metano”: O papel dos reservatórios em áreas de floresta tropical na emissão de gases de efeito estufa. Oecologia Brasiliensis 12(1): 100-115. <Full text-L>

English version: A framework for estimating greenhouse gas emissions from Brazil’s Amazonian hydroelectric dams. (manuscript) <Full text-L>
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/mss%20and%20in%20press/Fearnside%20Hydro%20GHG%20framework.pdf

Fearnside, P.M. 2007. Why hydropower is not clean energy. Scitizen, Paris, France (peer-reviewed website). <Full text-L>
http://www.scitizen.com/future-energies/why-hydropower-is-not-clean-energy_a-14-298.html
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/2007/Why%20hydro%20not%20clean%20energy-Article%20as%20posted.pdf

Fearnside, P.M. 2006. Greenhouse gas emissions from hydroelectric dams: Reply to Rosa et al. Climatic Change 75 (1-2): 103-109. (DOI: 10.1007/s10584-005-9016-z) <Preprint-L> <publisher link>
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/2006/Reply%20to%20Rosa%20et%20al-2.pdf

Fearnside, P.M. 2004. Greenhouse gas emissions from hydroelectric dams: Controversies provide a springboard for rethinking a supposedly “clean” energy source, Climatic Change 66(1-2): 1-8. Doi: 10.1023/B:CLIM.0000043174.02841.23 <preprint-L> <Publisher link-1>: <publisher link-2>
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/2004/HYDROELECTRIC%20DAMS-springboard%20commen-cc-ms.pdf

Fearnside, P.M. 2001. Environmental impacts of Brazil’s Tucuruí Dam: Unlearned lessons for hydroelectric development in Amazonia. Environmental Management 27(3): 377-396. Doi: 10.1007/s002670010156 <Preprint-L pdf> <Preprint-L html>
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/2001/TUC-ENV-em.pdf

Fearnside, P.M. 1997. Greenhouse-gas emissions from Amazonian hydroelectric reservoirs: The example of Brazil’s Tucuruí Dam as compared to fossil fuel alternatives. Environmental Conservation 24(1): 64-75. doi:10.1017/S0376892997000118 <Preprint-L>
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/1997/Tuc-emis-I-EC.pdf

Fearnside, P.M. 1996. Hydroelectric dams in Brazilian Amazonia: Response to Rosa, Schaeffer & dos Santos. Environmental Conservation 23(2): 105-108. doi:10.1017/S0376892900038467 <preprint-L>
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/1996/ROSA-REP.pdf

Fearnside, P.M. 1995. Hydroelectric dams in the Brazilian Amazon as sources of ‘greenhouse’ gases. Environmental Conservation 22(1): 7-19. doi:10.1017/S0376892900034020
<Preprint-L pdf> <Preprint-L html>
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/1995/HYDRO-GH-EC.pdf

[1] Fearnside, P.M. 2007. Why hydropower is not clean energy. Scitizen, Paris, France (peer-reviewed website). <Full text-L>
http://www.scitizen.com/future-energies/why-hydropower-is-not-clean-energy_a-14-298.html
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/2007/Why%20hydro%20not%20clean%20energy-Article%20as%20posted.pdf

Fearnside, P.M. 2015. Greenhouse gas emissions from hydroelectric dams in tropical forests. pp. 428-438 In: J. Lehr & J. Keeley (eds.) Alternative Energy and Shale Gas Encyclopedia. John Wiley & Sons Publishers, New York, E.U.A. 880 pp. ISBN: 978-0-470-89441-5 (no prelo). http://www.wiley.com/WileyCDA/WileyTitle/productCd-0470894415.html <Preprint-L>
http://philip.inpa.gov.br/publ_livres/Preprints/2015/FearnsideGreenhouse_gas_Emissions_from_Dams-Wiley-Preprint.pdf >

Dams Cause Climate Change, They Are Not Clean Energy, Gary Wockner – 14 August 2014
http://ecowatch.com/2014/08/14/dams-not-clean-energy-climate-change/

What’s Really Warming the World? – By Eric Roston – 24 June 2014
http://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2015-whats-warming-the-world/

Social Cost of Carbon Emissions in Spotlight – By Jeff Tollefson – 13 November 2015
http://www.nature.com/news/social-cost-of-carbon-emissions-in-spotlight1.18789?WT.mc_id=TWT_NatureNews

Greenhouse gas emissions | International Hydropower Association – 2015
https://www.hydropower.org/greenhouse-gas-emissions

UNFCCC – COP21: Adoption of the Paris Agreement – 12 December 2015
http://unfccc.int/resource/docs/2015/cop21/eng/l09.pdf

List of Damages by Hydropower Dams in the Mekong Basin

Dr. Lilliana Corredor © 5 December 2015
Founder, Scientists for the Mekong

You can download the PDF document (revised 10 December 2015) here:

List of Damages by Hydropower Dams in the Mekong Basin1.pdf (3.7 mb)

Scientists for the Mekong offer a list of the “cascade effect” of the damages resulting from Hydropower Dams on the Mekong basin. Meaning, that one factor leads to another and so forth. This is a better term than a ‘domino effect’ given we are also talking of a Cascade of Dams being built and many more planned for the region.
This is an excerpt of our article by L. Corredor (2015)[i].

  • Dams will block the main stream of the Mekong River and major tributaries. As a result,
  • Dams will block migratory routes for fish and other aquatic organisms – both on the main stream of the river and its tributaries.
  • Dams will also reduce water quality, and
  • Dams will reduce significantly the amounts of vital rich nutrient soils (alluvium) carried by the river – vital to fisheries, agriculture downstream and the Mekong Delta.
  • As a result of all the above, dams will jeopardize the reproductive success of migrating fish species. Consequently,
  • Dams will reduce the numbers of fish species, as well ,
  • Dams will reduce fish populations’ density. Therefore,
  • Dams will cause irreparable damage to the fisheries of the Mekong basin, and
  • Dams will cause a dramatic loss in biodiversity – though loss of fish species, as consequence of blocking the fish migration routes.
  • Dams will alter the hydrological flow of the Mekong River and its Tributaries, with dangerous consequences for the whole ecosystem and riverine communities. That is,
  • Dams will create fluctuations in water levels – harmful to riverine communities both during the dry season and the wet seasons.
  • Water withdrawal for the dams’ reservoirs during the dry season will endanger aquatic populations, and will also harm upstream riverine communities by depleting water volumes necessary for their farms, aquaculture ponds and daily living needs.
  • Dams will endanger the lives and properties of downstream riverine communities by exposing them to sudden flash flooding every rainy season, as dams are forced to open their gates and release excess water to avoid collapse.
  • Flash flooding by Dams during the wet season will result in loss of homes, livestock, harvests and perhaps even lives (yet there is no compensation offered – as has already occurred in southern Cambodia).
  • Downstream communities may be exposed to added danger if the Don Sahong Dam collapses as a result of tremors (given that it will be built on a Geological Fault) – with incalculable disastrous consequences.
  • Dams will ensure damage to the RAMSAR Wetlands in NE Cambodia, through extreme drainage (in the dry season) and flooding (in the wet season) – as well as to all wetlands in the basin, particularly the very important and productive area of Tonle Sap.
  • Dams damage to Wetlands puts at risk the food security, livelihoods and even the lives of thousands of people. In NE Cambodia alone, dams will imperil 20,000 people living in the RAMSAR wetlands.
  • Dams will devastate aquatic populations of flora and fauna; and endanger bird populations – both in riverine areas and in Wetlands – as a result of seasonal excessive flooding and drainage of the Wetlands.
  • Dams will ensure the extinction of the Irrawaddy dolphins, the Giant Mekong Catfishes and dozens of other fish and aquatic species. As a result,
  • Dams will alter the balance of the food chain and thereby,
  • Dams will alter the whole Mekong ecosystem not only hydrologically, but also its fauna & flora.
  • Dams will cause irreparable damage to the Tonle Sap River and the Great Lake through loss of migrating fish species, therefore loss of fisheries, reduced water quality and loss of alluvium.
  • By reducing fisheries and biodiversity, Dams will reduce the food supply in all of the Lower Mekong Region. Therefore,
  • Dams will put at risk the Food Security of 60 million people – in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam.
  • Dams will also jeopardize the livelihoods of millions of poor families in communities along the Mekong River – both in the main stream, as well as, in many tributaries – through the reduction of fish supplies and productive agricultural lands. Therefore,
  • Dams will result in increased poverty. Consequently,
  • Dams will compromise the health of all riverine communities along the Mekong River and their tributaries, as well as those along the Tonle Sap and Great Lake (40 Million people) – by the reduction of fish and agricultural food sources. In addition,
  • Dams will increase the release of arsenic from permanently flooded wetlands’ soils. This, in turn, will contaminate groundwater, which is the source of drinking water wells. Hence,
  • Dams will increase the risk of ‘Arsenicosis’ a fatal condition, through arsenic-laced drinking water. Thus, putting in peril the lives of millions of people in the Lower Mekong basin.
  • Hydropower Dam projects are built on Human Rights Violations. In Laos, communities are denied the Right to Freedom of Expression. Any opposition or criticism of such projects is harshly punished (as per Penal Code 46 by Laos), including: jail sentences of 5-15 years with fines, disappearances and killings. Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) has not taken place or is substandard. Opposition is also harshly dealt with in Thailand and Cambodia, with jail sentences, deportation and killings of activists and journalists that have opposed government plans.
  • Dams have already displaced thousands of people, and will displace hundreds of thousands more, along the main stream of the Mekong River and its tributaries – to make space for the Dam’s reservoirs.
  • Dams have already caused, and will cause further untold suffering and despair to displaced communities now and in the future: psychologically, physically and emotionally – as a result of being uprooted from their homes, losing their property and livelihood, by being relocated to unknown areas far away from the river and the life they know; and by having to discover a new way to make a living.
  • Dam developers and host governments have only offered substandard compensation to displaced communities, to date.
  • Dams cause loss of water supply for upstream communities, resulting in loss of food supply and damage to their livelihood– yet do not offer compensation
  • Dams cause flash flooding, resulting in loss of property, harvests, livestock, food supply, and the livelihood of downstream communities – yet do not offer compensation
  • Dams will ensure the loss of many cultural sites of importance to local communities and ethnic groups – for which there is no compensation possible as these sites are irreplaceable.
  • Dams will cause irreparable damage to the Mekong Delta – through the loss of fisheries; immense loss of nutrient rich sediments (alluvium); loss of thousands of hectares of fertile agricultural soils; intrusion of salt water in fertile agricultural lands rendering them unusable; reduction in the production of rice, fruits and vegetables; reduction in income for local farmers, fishermen and government. As a result,
  • Dams will cause irreparable and massive loss of revenue for Cambodia and Vietnam calculated in Billions of Dollars – through the huge loss of exports.
  • Dams reservoirs will emit millions of tons of Green House Gases (Methane and CO2) continuously over the first 10 years – through the decomposition of organic material drowned in the reservoirs. Such emissions are released into the atmosphere as methane laden waters from the bottom of the reservoir pass through the turbines and spillways; as well,
  • Dams will lead to the continuous emission of millions of tons of Green House Gases (Methane and CO2) produced throughout the lifetime of the dam by the “drawdown zones”. These are the areas resulting from drying and flooding of wetlands and riverine areas, during the dry and wet seasons.
  • Consequently, Hydropower Dams in the Mekong basin will intensify Climate Warming.

In light of the above, the notions that Hydropower Dams in the Mekong Basin are: sustainable, ethical, socially and economically beneficial, and they produce “Green and Clean energy” … is not only false and ludicrous, but also indefensible.

We conclude that Hydropower Dams will have disastrous consequences on the whole Lower Mekong Region and that they must be HALTED and no further Dams built for the benefit of all.

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Article written by:

Dr. Lilliana Corredor
Founder & Coordinator, Scientists for the Mekong
NSW, Australia

B.Sc. Biology & Chemistry
M.Sc. Marine Biology
Maitrisse General Oceanography
D.E.A. Biological Oceanography
Ph.D. Behavioural Sciences
Environmental Educator

Email: Lilliana Corredor
Website: https://scientists4mekong.com
Weekly updates: https://www.facebook.com/scientists.for.the.mekong
Twitter (1): https://twitter.com/Amarial1 and
Twitter (2): https://twitter.com/Amarial3

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ACTIONS You Can Take

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REFERENCES

The list of references is much too long for this blog. We refer the reader to the original document from which this list comes:

[i] COP21 – Mekong Dolphin Extinction, Hydropower & Climate Change
https://scientists4mekong.com/2015/11/25/cop21-mekong-dolphin-extinction-hydropower-climate-change/

[ii] SAVE the Mekong River – 60 Million people & 71 dolphins https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Mr_Viraponh_Viravong_Deputy_Minister_of_Energy_and_Mines_Lao_PDR_We_call_on_you_to_SAVE_the_MEKONG_River_DOLPHINS_Suspen/?nQAhpab

[iii] 10 Reasons Why Climate Initiatives Should Not Include Large Hydro – by International Rivers – November 2015
http://org.salsalabs.com/o/2486/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=18739

COP21 – Mekong Dolphin Extinction, Hydropower & Climate Change

COP21 – Mekong Dolphin Extinction, Hydropower & Climate Change Dr. Lilliana Corredor © 25 November 2015 Founder, Scientists for the Mekong Abstract Scientists for the Mekong offer this article to inform the public, the delegates at COP21, and decision makers worldwide about the impacts of Hydropower Development on the Lower Mekong River. Particularly, their serious […]