Saturday, December 7th 2019, 2:06 pm - Tens of millions of people rely on the Mekong River for farming and their businesses.
Tourists are flocking to the Mekong River that has recently turned bright blue, but experts in Thailand are saying that that this colour change is troublesome and is likely caused by upstream dams.
The river is normally yellowish-brown due to the sediment it carries but has recently begun to run clear and water levels have dropped. While many find the scene picturesque, the low water levels have exposed sandbanks and has the potential to cause problems for the 70 million people in China, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam who depend on the Mekong River for water, food, irrigation, transportation, and other commerce activities.
The Xayaburi dam in Laos began operating in October and has started blocking sediment from moving further downstream, as reported by Time. “Less sediment means less nutrition for plants and fish in the river, threatening the ecological balance,” said Pravit Kanthaduang, chief of the fishery office at Bueng Khong Long, a district in Thailand’s Bueng Kan province.
The lower volume of sediment results in the flowing water unleashing energy onto the river banks downstream, which can cause erosion, uprooted trees and other types of damage.
The dam’s developers have denied responsibility for low water levels and in October Xayaburi Power Co. Ltd. said the project spent more than $640 million to mitigate impacts that could be harmful to the environment.