PHNOM PENH, 11 April 2019: Just days away from the Buddhist water festival known in Thailand as “Songkran” the Mekong river’s water level in Cambodia’s Kratie province is expected drop by half a metre.
Quoted by the Phnom Penh Post the Mekong River Commission reported Monday that the water level would decline between the 12 to 19 April as the “outflow from China’s Jinghong hydropower station is gradually reduced by half to accommodate the Dai ethnic group’s celebration of the “Water Splashing Festival.”
That’s fine for the Dai people, but for festival goers downstream in Luang Prabang province in Laos and Chiang Saen district in Chiang Rai in northern Thailand, the river level will drop by 70 cm or more the commission reported.
According to the Phnom Penh Post, the MRC quoted an official notification from China’s Ministry of Water Resources saying that on 11 April, outflow from the Jinghong hydropower station would decrease from 2,000-3,000 cubic metres per second to 1,500–1,600 cubic metres per second.
The amount of water flow will gradually return to normal starting 17 April presumably when the Dai people quit throwing water at each other.
The Jinghong dam lies on the upper Mekong River (Lancang in Chinese) in Yunnan province.
Officials in Kratie province are worried about the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins, although experts claim the dolphins dwell in deep river pools.
“Even if the level of the Mekong River decreased almost two metres, it wouldn’t be a problem because the dolphin pool is very deep,” Chhnieng Lorn, from the fishing community at the Prek Kampi dolphin pool in Kratie province’s Sambor district told the Post.
Last week, the National Geographic reported the dolphin population was once more on the rise in Cambodia, news that will be welcomed by tour operators in Kratie province.
(Source: Phnom Penh Post)