Experts on sustainable development from the four downstream countries along the Mekong river ended a joint meeting in Laos last week with a renewed call to bring China and Burma into the fold.
Sitaheng Rasphone, a Lao agriculture minister and chairman of the Mekong River Commission Joint Committee, said bringing China and Burma into a basin-wide planning process would become more important as the pace of development increases. Meanwhile, development upstream may have been responsible for a record low level last week for the Mekong in Thailand, the Bangkok Post reported Saturday.
The river at Chiang Saen fell more than a meter in 10 days, according to figures from a hydrographics center. A local skipper said preparations to blast a navigation channel through the river had prompted the temporary closure of spillways of a Chinese dam, lowering the water level.
A Phnom Penh-based hydrology expert called the 1-meter drop “amazing” and said it could increase riverbank erosion and hurt fish populations. The river has since risen a half-meter.
The Mekong River Commission has said Chinese plans to blast the navigation channel and to build more dams in China require further review to ensure they will not hurt downstream countries.