May 31 (UPI)– New dams for hydroelectricity are modifying Cambodia’s Mekong River, and could threaten fish migration, incomes and regional food security– and the foreseeable seasonal patterns that farmers and anglers depend on.A brand-new paper from the University of Illinois and Iowa State University, released this month in the Journal of Soil and Water Preservation, recommends officials partner with locals, who have a deep understanding of the river, to resolve the problem. Their understanding, along with technical and scientific findings, is necessary for developing effective methods to adapt to the changing flows and uses of the river.
“Due to years of civil wars that damaged infrastructure and hindered modernization, just a bit majority of the Cambodian population has access to electrical energy,” Kenneth Olson, professor emeritus in the Department of natural Resources and Environmental Science at UI, said in a press release. “Hydropower is a critical structure block for needed modernization. Utilizing the water resources for power provides tough trade-offs for fishers and farmers.”
The Mekong River and the Tonle Sap Lake and River location dominate the Cambodian landscape. The Tonle Sap River is a tributary of the Mekong River, which links it with Tonle Sap Lake northwest of Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital.
“This special, complicated hydrological system is highly influenced by the Asian monsoon,” Olson wrote. “During the monsoon season, the Tonle Sap Lake area expands to become 4 times higher than in the dry season and hold nine times more water by volume. The surface area water level can change by more than 30 feet, so homes are either in floating villages or on stilts.”
The phenomenon occurs due to the fact that of the seasonal flooding that begins in May and June, which causes the Mekong River to support into the Tonle Sap River and Lake. When the rain stops in November and water levels in the Mekong River start to drop, stream in the Tonle Sap River reverses and becomes a tributary once again. That means the smaller sized river flows northwest into the lake for 6 months from the year, and reverses and flows into the Mekong River for the other six months.The flooding brings required sediments and nutrients for crops and fishing. But the sedimentation increase can likewise close down dry-season navigation in between the capital and regional centers due to the fact that it makes the already-shallow lake a lot more shallow over time.There are plans to construct 11 more dams on the main stem of the
lower Mekong River. River ecology scientists and environmentalists are worried, however, about how the dams will affect the historically predictable downstream circulations and seasonal flood patterns, which birds, fish and plant communities have adjusted to over time.Fish migration is the most significant issue, since of Cambodia’s dependence on fish for top quality protein and food security, and one of the dams under building and construction will block fish migration and might flood houses behind it.”The tradeoffs among hydroelectricity production, food security, and fisheries’livelihoods are hard and intricate, and establishing an integrated resource management plan is not an easy task, “Olson stated.”Broad participatory approaches that include local citizens in the scientific and technical info exchanges can enhance decision-making and better fulfill government, industry, and rural communities ‘goals.”Fishers and farmers can keep adjusting if they’re given opportunity, resources and tools, he stated. The concerns do not only impact Cambodia, though– they impact the food security of metropolitan individuals throughout Southeast Asia.