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Mekong water diversion projects threaten Vietnam

Experts have warned that Vietnam is in danger as Thailand, Laos and Cambodia are speeding up their Mekong water diversion plans.

By VietNamNet Bridge

Mekong River, August 4, 2016

VietNamNet Bridge

With the support of Pan Nature (People & Nature Reconciliation), a team of experts have conducted a fact-finding trip to Cambodia and some provinces in the northeast of Thailand to learn more about the Mekong river diversion projects.

Nguyen Nhan Quang, a river basin management specialist, a member of the team, said there were two groups of water diversion projects.

First, the projects on diverting water from Mekong basin to other rivers’ basins, Kok-Ing-Nan and Ing Yom projects. Second, the projects on diverting river from the left to the right side, and from the right side to the inland areas through different routes.

One of the most noteworthy projects is the Mekong – Huai Luang – Nong Han – Lam Pao, under which 30 water reservoirs near the confluence of the tributaries and Mekong would be built to store Mekong’s water to serve irrigation in cultivated areas.

Another project is Kong-Loei-Chi-Mun, expected to be implemented in nine phases, of which the first phase will last 450 days, from October 9, 2015 to December 31, 2016.

The project aims to divert water from Mekong to Chi/Mun river basin in the northeastern part of Thailand. It comprises six canals with total length of 2,200 kilometers, running through 17 provinces and 113 districts.

Some sources said that the volume of water to be transferred from Loei river (next to Mekong river mouth) to Chi-Mun would be up to 4 billion cubic meters a year.

As for Cambodia, due to the hydrological characteristics of the Mekong’s current, some areas in the country lack water for irrigation not only in dry season, but also in late rainy season.

Therefore, the country is considering developing Vaico, an irrigation project, implemented by Chinese investors. The project aims to lead water from Mekong to Krapik Reservoir via Samdei River which would be provided to rice fields in the provinces of Kampong Cham, Prey Veng and Svey Rieng.

It is expected that the project would be implemented in two phases with total investment capital of $200 million.

Commenting about the impact of water diversion projects, Quang said if all the tributaries on the Mekong in Thailand have pumping stations which take and store water in reservoirs, and similar projects are implemented in Cambodia, the flood water volume to Vietnam’s Mekong River Delta area will fall.

According to Nguyen Hong Toan from the Mekong Vietnam Committee, in April, the driest month, the Mekong’s water flow to Vietnam lost 120-400 cubic meters per second due to the water diversion projects.


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