MRC countries agree on procedures for Mekong flows

Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, 22nd Jun 2006

Senior government ministers representing the four Mekong River Commission (MRC) member countries today signed an important agreement on the procedures governing the maintenance of flows on the Mekong mainstream.

The ministers, who are also members of the MRC Council, came from Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. They endorsed the Procedures for the Maintenance of Flows on the Mainstream at a signing ceremony held in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam.

In attendance were: H.E. Mr. Lim Kean Hor, Minister of Water Resources and Meteorology, Cambodia, H.E. Mr. Somphong Mongkhonvilay, Minister to the Prime Minister's Office, Lao PDR; H.E. Mr. Yongyut Tiyapairat, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Thailand (and Chairman of the MRC Council 2005/2006); H.E. Dr. Cao Duc Phat, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Viet Nam; members of the MRC Joint Committee and the four National Mekong Committees; representatives from consulates and MRC Secretariat Chief Executive Officer Dr Olivier Cogels and staff from the MRC Water Utilisation Programme (WUP).

The WUP has been involved in helping the four member countries formulate a set of water procedures with support from the Global Environment Facility through the World Bank.

The flow procedures are required under the provisions of the 1995 Mekong Agreement on the Cooperation for the Sustainable Development of the Mekong River Basin, which formed the Mekong River Commission. The Agreement also requires the member states to cooperate in the maintenance of:

• acceptable minimum monthly flows in the dry season,
• acceptable natural reverse flow of the Tonle Sap during the wet season; and
• prevention of peak flows greater than occur naturally.

The Procedures for Maintenance of Flows on the Mainstream clarify the related provisions of the Mekong Agreement through further defining objectives, principles and scope of their application as well as the roles and responsibilities of the various parties required for their implementation, including the MRC Council, the MRC Joint Committee, the National Mekong Committees and the MRC Secretariat.

Most notably the Procedures delegate the responsibility to prepare Technical Guidelines for their implementation to the members of the Joint Committee. These Technical Guidelines will define in concrete terms the actual flow and level values and the location of the Mekong mainstream hydrological stations which will be used to monitor these flows and levels.

The MRC is currently undertaking work analysing the changes of flow regimes.

-ends-

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Email: khy@mrcmekong.org

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