Rainfall and Jinghong dam water discharge not yet causes of flood concerns in Mekong countries


15th Sep 2014

15 September 2014, Vientiane, LAO PDR—Rainfall volume and the current release of water from the Jinghong dam in China in the past weeks have not triggered flood concerns in the downstream reaches of the Mekong River for the upcoming week, and water levels along the Mekong banks in the upper parts of Thailand and Lao PDR are still below flood levels, according to initial analysis of the Mekong River Commission.

The MRC forecasts that in the next 5 days, water levels in certain reaches of the Mekong are likely to rise slightly to the previous levels in the past weeks which will not result in flooding.

There have been media reports speculating that the Jinghong dam, situated on the Mekong River, would release a huge amount of water from its reservoir, due to heavy rain, and cause flooding in the downstream reaches of the river from 5 - 30 September, 2014.

However, data provided in the Global Flood Alert System—a world-wide internet-based information system that provides flood forecasting and warning information in the form of downloadable data, global and regional rainfall maps as well as heavy rainfall information—shows that the rainfall volumes in Southern China from 30 August–7 September and in the Lower Mekong Basin from 1–5 September, were not high enough to cause concerns related to dam operation or flooding.

The MRC has monitored water levels at different stations along the Mainstream of the Mekong including the Jinghong station, situated downstream of the dam. Since 1 September, the water discharge rate at the Jinghong station had dropped from 1,000 cubic metres per second to 775 cubic metres per second and, during the last four days, has fluctuated between 758 to 1358 cubic metres per second. These monitored discharged rates are far below the rate of 7,000 cubic metres per second which is what the MRC’s modelling simulations suggest could cause overflows to the river banks in Chiang Saen District in Chiang Rai Province in the North of Thailand.

The modelling simulations also indicate that if the present water levels are maintained at the Jinghong station, the water level in Chiang Saen is likely to drop further from the current level.

Rainfall in the Upper and Lower Mekong regions is expected to continue until November. The MRC monitors daily water levels along 23 stations on different reaches of the Mekong mainstream, from Southern China to Thailand, Lao PDR, Cambodia and Viet Nam and provides daily updates on the websites: www.mcmekong.org and http://ffw.mrcmekong.org. Five-day water level forecasts for each station are also provided. Warnings will be given on the website and to national government agencies once water levels at certain stations reach alarming or flood levels. The MRC has requested additional information on planned dam operations from the Chinese authorities.

Notes to editors:

The MRC is the intergovernmental body responsible for cooperation on the sustainable management of the Mekong Basin whose members include Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam. It is established to promote cooperation amongst the Member Countries and thus it is not a supra-national or regulatory body.

In dealing with this challenge, the commission looks across all sectors including sustaining fisheries, identifying opportunities for agriculture, maintaining the freedom of navigation, flood management and preserving important ecosystems. Superimposed on these are the future effects of more extreme floods, prolonged drought and sea level rise associated with climate change. In providing its advice, the MRC aims to facilitate a broad range of dialogue among governments, the private sector and civil society.

The MRC Secretariat provides technical, advisory and administrative services to the member states. It facilitates regional meetings of the Member Countries and provides technical advice on joint planning, coordination and cooperation. It also works closely with the four countries’ coordinating bodies, the National Mekong Committees (NMCs), and other state agencies. Currently, the People’s Republic of China and the Union of Myanmar are engaged as MRC Dialogue Partners.

For more information, please contact:

Mr. Surasak Glahan, Communication Officer
Office of the Secretariat in Vientiane
Tel: +856 21 263 263 or +856 20 7850 6220 (Vientiane mobile number)
Email: Surasak@mrcmekong.org


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