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Two Important Lessons From Mekong Mainstream Dams in China released by northern Thai Ngo

Two Important Lessons From Mekong Mainstream Dams in China released by northern Thai Ngo

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Published by SavetheMekong
Statement on Chinese dams affectin northern Thailand, released by Chiang Khong Conservation Group, Thailand

more information please visit: www.savethemekong.org
Sign the petition to save the Mekong River : http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2486/t/8905/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=638
or join our "Save the Mekong" campaign on Facebok page
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-the-Mekong/105507516145136?v=app_2373072738#!/pages/Save-the-Mekong/105507516145136
Statement on Chinese dams affectin northern Thailand, released by Chiang Khong Conservation Group, Thailand

more information please visit: www.savethemekong.org
Sign the petition to save the Mekong River : http://salsa.democracyinaction.org/o/2486/t/8905/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=638
or join our "Save the Mekong" campaign on Facebok page
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-the-Mekong/105507516145136?v=app_2373072738#!/pages/Save-the-Mekong/105507516145136

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Published by: SavetheMekong on May 09, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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08/11/2010

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Two Important Lessons from Mekong Mainstream Dams in China:
Lesson I: ‘Dams can’t control flooding and in the context of the climate changecrisis, cause to dry’ Lesson II: ‘Dams cause huge disasters’Introduction
This amazing river named “Mekong” flows through Indochina beginning from theTibetan Plateau, East of the Himalayas. It flows through Si Suan Pan Na (Sib Song Pan Na) in Yunnan Province, Burma, Laos PDR, Thailand, Cambodia and out to South ChinaSea at the South of Vietnam. Certainly, this river has motivated capitalists from the timesof colonialism to the current times of globalization.Since colonial countries left Southeast Asia without achieving trade operations in theriver, nation-states have developed into both liberal Democracies and Communist-Socialist state regimes. The region’s liberal states have since established an organizationnamed the ‘Mekong River Commission,’ (MRC) which is an Inter-governmentalOrganization between the Lower Mekong Countries. This organization works to manageMekong River resources. More recently, Socialist countries have changed their economic mechanisms into ‘Free Market Socialism’ and become members of the MRC.While China has yet to join this organization, their change in economic mechanismsallowed it to become a ‘New Economic Giant.’ These massive changes have broughtquestions about the role of socialist political ideology in these transforming economies.The model of economic growth-led developed hascreated a focus on Mekong resourcesas materials to be transformed into the energy of production and assigned a monetaryvalue – more impressive than the aesthetic value of nature itself.
Lesson I: ‘Dams can’t control flooding’
Given the global economic compettition, an important economic growth driver is llargedam building on the mainstream Mekong River. Dams have been built to block the Upper Mekong, which is called ‘Lanchang Jiang’ in Yunnana Province, China. The first dam,called ‘Manwan’ was started in 1993 and began electricitygeneration by 1996, which isthe first year that riparian villagers in Mekong Downstream area in Chiang Rai Province,Thailand were impacted by drastically low water levels. Dashaoshan Dam beganelectricity generation in 2003 and Jinghong Dam started to store the water in 2008, with 5electricity generators operating by May 2009. The latest news is the largest dam calledthe ‘Xiaowan Dam,’ which started to store water and run the first electric generator on 25September 2009. Most electricity is being sent to the East of China, where there is the
 
2rapid economic growth. At the same time, however, ‘rapid flooding in the rainy seasonand drastically low water levels affect downstream areas in the dry season’.
Explanations?
A key point here is the ‘rapid flooding crisis’ from August 2008. The impacts of flooding in northern Thailand and Laos run opposite to official discourse, which says that‘dams store water for the river in dry season and control flooding in rainy season.’ Thishas showed us that in fact, ‘dams can’t control flooding.’ The flooding and riverbank erosion that occurred from 9-10 August 2008 in the Ing and Kok River Basins has not been seen over the last 4 decades. This also reveals that China’s dam discourse isnonsensical.In 1966 there were huge natural floods. The water levels increased slowly from theMekong tributaries Kok and Ing Rivers, flowing into Mekong River. The rise in water levels took one month before generating floods. On the contrary, the 2008 flood situationis entirely different. At that time, news reveals that there was a flood disaster in front of aChinese dam on the Mekong, killing 40 Chinese and forcing more than 2,000,000 peopleto migrate out of the area. The dam was overcapacity and after the deaths in the localcommunity, water was rapidly released. In the
 Ing 
and
 Kok 
tributaries, which are the firstflat areas in the Mekong Downstream, overnights water levels increased 2 meters. TheMekong’s muddy-colored water flowed up into its tributaries, pushing the tributaries’yellow-colored water backwards 30 kilometers. During this period there was noindication of rain in the Mekong tributaries’ watersheds.
Figure 1 graph revealing the mean level river quantity in Ing and Kok Rivers during 9-15 August 2009
 
3Moreover, there is approved water level information from Jinghong Station, which showsthe accumulated water level to be 1,400 millimeters on 6 August 2008. The water flowfrom Jinghong City to Chiang Saen District, Thailand took 5 days – on 11 August 2008,Mekong water levels reached 11.50 meters at Chiang Khong. In the days leading up tothe high water levels, statistics show levels to be normal. But on 11 August the water level increased at an unusually rapid pace. On 12 August, the water level was calculatedat 12.70 meters, and in the morning on 13 August calculated at 13.60 meters.Information reveals that the level of the water increased 1.9-2 meters within three days.The water the decreased rapidly until 16 August, when the water level was recorded at9.64 meters, again showing a 3 days water lever decrease of 3.76 meters. This kind of information is available at the water level station in Chiang Saen District. This calculatedwater level supports the riparian villager’s claims that the water levels in the area raisedand fell at an abnormal rate.
1
Figure 2 Graph reveal water level during 11-16 August 2008 at Chiang Khong Station, THA
This information approves that the flood waters were released from Jinghong Dam, about355 kilometers from Chiang Saen District, Thailand, had serious impacts on downstreamriparian communities. Initial observations reveal that the impact of this disaster can bevalued at more that 85 million baht (2.65 million US dollars). This does not include theimpact evaluations from Northeastern Thailand and Lao PDR, where abnormal floodssimilarly affected communities. 
1
บรรยายสรุประดับน้  ําอัตโนมัติแมน้  ําโขง
(AHNIP),
ศูนยสํารวจอุทกวิทยาที ่ 
12
เชียงแสน สํานักงานทรัพยากรน้  ําภาค
1
กรมทรัพยากรน้  ํ กระทรวงทรัพยากรธรรมชาติและสิ ่งแวดลอม
, 2551

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