Guidelines for hydropower environmental impact mitigation and risk management in the Lower Mekong mainstream and tributaries (ISH0306)


The Initiative for Sustainable Hydropower (ISH) was established with the aim of seeking to embed sustainable hydropower considerations into the regulatory frameworks and planning systems of member countries and into project level planning, design, implementation and operational activities. The ISH 2011-2015 Strategy emphasizes this requirement as well as the need to understand the scale and distribution of risks associated with hydropower development on the main stream and on tributaries and also seeks the exploration and documentation of possible avoidance, mitigation and benefit and risk sharing options. Beside the Preliminary Design Guidance for Mainstream Dams (PDG) introduced in 2009, necessary frameworks must be in place to provide assurance that risks can be effectively minimized. The ISH is seeking to enhance these Guidelines and to provide more effective and detailed documentation of the options and methods that may be used to cover the mitigation of hydropower risks in the Mekong based on the latest research and practice from around the world and the region and to expand the applicability of these Guidelines to the tributary developments.

The Development of the Guidelines

The study is carrying out by reputed consulting firm who will provide a “Core Team” of suitably qualified experts together with two additional international consultants engaged by MRC to confirm and develop a generic practical process for risk and impact mitigation to support Member Countries in their assessment and implementation of mitigation options. The idea is that mitigation is considered not only at the planning, feasibility and design stages of the projects, but also that the effectiveness of mitigation options is monitored and adaptations are made over the project lifecycle. Measures proposed in the study must cover all aspects of the process. The mitigation guidelines will be based on good industry practice and latest research and technical knowhow.

The mitigation guidelines will be based on good industrial practice and latest research and technical knowhow. An example overview can be given as follows:


Case Study Implementation

The Guidelines and their application in the Mekong will be tested in a number of ways. Firstly, existing applications of mitigation options and cases studies are sourced from regional hydropower projects or cascades in order to consider the lessons learned from those projects. Secondly, the team will be modeling in detail the cascade of 6 mainstream dams upstream of Vientiane to understand the best means of managing and mitigating the cumulative impacts of these dams on a range of environmental variables including fisheries, sediment and river morphology, water quality, etc.

Dissemination and Building of Capacity Building

The Guidelines and Knowledge base will form a comprehensive guide for use in the Mekong basin. Training and consultation will form a major part of this work throughout the project. The Knowledge base is to be presented in a readily accessible manner for practitioners in the region.

ISH0306 Resources


2nd Interim Report - Final

Volume 1 – The Guidelines 

Volume 2 – Version 1.0 – The Manual –Key Hydropower Risks, Impacts and Vulnerabilities and General Mitigation Options for Lower Mekong 

Volume 3 – The Knowledge Base Report

Volume 4 – The Case Study Report

Volume 4 - Case Study Report - Annex A-G