U.S. Water News Online
BEIJING -- China will press forward with plans to build six
more dams on its stretch of the Mekong river despite concerns in
nations downstream about economic and environmental damage.
The official Xinhua News Agency said preparations for the dams are
already well under way. Government officials and environmental groups
in other Mekong nations had hoped Beijing would delay construction
while their concerns were addressed.
China says the dams will power economic development of its
impoverished southwest. Xinhua said the new dams, combined with two
existing Chinese dams on the Mekong, can generate 15.6 gigawatts of
electricity per year.
But many fear the dams could permanently alter a river that 60
million people in Southeast Asia depend on for food and livelihood.
China has said the dams will ease flooding during annual rains and
add water during dry seasons. But that's exactly what worries
countries like Cambodia and Laos, where traditional farming and
fishing practices depend on those natural cycles.
Environmental groups are also worried the dams will filter out
important nutrients and block the migratory paths of rare Mekong
species like the giant freshwater catfish, which can weigh up to 650
About half of the 3,025-mile waterway flows through China. The
rest is shared by five Southeast Asian nations, including Vietnam,
Myanmar and Thailand.
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