Stakeholders Urge Lao Hydro Developer to Share Data

AKP Phnom Penh, February 20, 2020 —

The Mekong River Commission (MRC) said Thursday that Cambodian, Thai and Vietnamese stakeholders had urged Xayaburi Power Co. to share information on its hydropower plant in northern Laos.

In a statement, the Vientiane-based intergovernmental agency said the comments were made during a Feb. 7 visit to the plant.

The 1,260-megawatt plant, which includes the first dam across the mainstream of the Mekong River outside China, started operating late last year.

Chea Narin from the Cambodian Ministry of Mines and Energy said Cambodia wanted to see the plant developer and owner “continue addressing our past concerns and sharing more information with the MRC Secretariat.”

He said dam operation rules “should also be shared with the MRC Secretariat and the other MRC member countries so that coordinated operations of the dams on the mainstream of the Mekong could be established.”

Patchara Jaturakomol, a researcher from Thailand’s Kasetsart University, said an absence of flow data-sharing made her think the facility was storing water.

“It’s hard not to think that the dam isn’t storing the water when you saw the water levels on the upstream and downstream of the dams are different,” she said.

Nguyen Nhan Quang, from the Vietnamese Centre for Promotion of Integrated Water Resources Management, said data on sediment and fish migration above and below the dam “should be shared” along with information on power generation.

Knut Sierotzki, from Finnish engineering company Poyry, said there was “no storing of water” by the dam.

“What flows in will eventually flow out,” he said. “The flow regime of the river is not changed. The inflow water is constantly released either through the turbines or spillway,” he said.

Sierotzki said discharge during the current dry season was about 50 percent higher than that of the dry year in 2003-2004.

Jaturakomol said she would like this information made public and also called for operation rules to be shared with the MRC Secretariat and the other MRC members “so that coordinated operations of the dams on the mainstream of the Mekong could be established.”

Anoulak Kittikhoun, chief strategy and partnership officer at the MRC Secretariat, said the agency wanted stakeholders to “see the dam and its operation with their own eyes and pose questions to the developer” so they could make their own assessments.

The MRC wanted the site visit to “speak for itself regarding the situation of low flows and drought in the Mekong,” he said.

By Sao Da