Monitoring the Health of the Mekong River
The Lower Mekong River Basin (LMB) possess vast water and related resources that support economic development and underpin the livelihoods of the communities living in the region. However, population growth and rapid development have placed tremendous pressure on the river’s resources.
Whilst living conditions have been improving rapidly, this has come at a considerable cost to the environment. There are several areas of concern, including the seemingly permanent modifications of mainstream flows; the substantial reduction in sediment flows due to sediment trapping; the continuing loss of wetlands; the deterioration of riverine habitats; and growing pressures on fisheries.
To ensure development does not cause unacceptable deterioration to the health of the river, robust information is vital. Data on hydrology and hydraulics, sediment, water quality, aquatic ecology, and fisheries is required to understand and assess the availability and condition of water resources and their linkages to environmental and social conditions in the basin.
This type of information can warn of sudden changes and allows for more informed and effective mitigation measures. In addition, it can form the basis for constructive discussions between riverine communities and governments on the implications of water infrastructure development. Such discussions are essential for the success of water resources management in the basin.
The MRC conducts basin-wide monitoring activities to assess the effects of water management and basin development activities. The MRC undertakes six monitoring activities measuring both environmental and social indicators:
These monitoring activities are needed to provide data and information in support of the implementation of the 1995 Mekong Agreement, which requires the Member Countries to cooperate to protect the environment from pollution and the effects of development, ensuring ecological balance and the wellbeing of the region’s communities.