Agreement On The Cooperation For The Sustainable Development Of The Mekong River Basin

Mekong Mainstream Run-of-River Hydropower: Summary. December 1994. Created by the National Company of the Rhone, Lyon, France, in collaboration with Acres International Limited, Calgary, Canada, and the Mékongariat Secretariat Study Team, Bangkok, Thailand. Since then, the MRC has been reluctant to fully record concerns about upstream water development in China. For example, Dr. Olivier Cogels, the head of the MRC, argued in a letter to the Bangkok Post that Chinese dams would increase the dry season volume of the river, because their purpose was to produce electricity and not to water. [46] While such dams could certainly increase dry season flows, the only certainty of China`s future reservoir policy appears to be that they will be manufactured outside downstream cooperation regimes. [5] The public statements of the RCN`s leaders, in the same way as Cogels`s comments, gave the MRC a reputation for being complicit in „floating downstream of China`s dam-building machine.“ [47] The mighty Mekong, the tenth largest river in the world, is under conflicting pressure to develop its flood zones and use its powerful river, which stretches from 4,200 kilometres from the Himalayas to the China Sea, passing through China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam. Turbulence characterizes the upper parts of the river, but the Lower Mekong is calmer and annual flooding supports a biologically diverse ecosystem.

Agriculture is the main economic activity along the river, supplemented by fish production, transportation and electricity generation. In 1994, the four countries commissioned a study to determine the viability of hydroelectric development in the Mekong when it was deliberately limited to minimizing these effects. The study recognized the negative effects of large reservoir-dependent dams and focused on a „river run“ dam structure that uses natural rivers of water daily instead of a reservoir to regulate flow. The study categorized nine sites (see map) based on social and environmental impact and economic performance. The development of hydroelectric power has long been a critical issue for the inhabitants, planners and officials of the Mekong Rim countries, but the approach has evolved over time. In a 1957 plan, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers proposed a cascade of seven major dam projects that would generate 23,300 megawatts of electricity and contain perceived flooding problems. The Indochina War put an end to the implementation of this plan.

Today, development planning has moved from structural flood protection to a regional approach based on resource participation and allocation among countries.