By Dr. Xuezhong Yu, project lead for MK22:balancing river health and hydropower requirements in the Lancang River Basin.
The CEO of the Mekong River Commission (MRC), Dr Phan Pham Tuan, recently stated that “hydropower won’t kill the Mekong River”, prompting rapid rebuttal from around the Mekong Region. In this blog, I set out to examine this question based on experience from the Chinese part of the Mekong River, the Lancang River. Hydropower development began three decades ago and there are six large dams in operation on the Lancang mainstream, and lessons derived from this hydropower implementation may have relevance to downstream countries. Since 2015, researchers from Canada, China, and Laos have been working on a project entitled ‘Balancing River Health and Hydropower Requirements in the Lancang River Basin”, and initial results are now emerging.