Thursday, October 22, 2009

Notes from Cambodia NGO forum

I met with the an adviser from the NGO forum for Cambodia's environment program, she asked that I not use her name.

She gave me some interesting information:

- a French company is paying for a feasibility study on a different channel in the Khone Falls area close to Don Sahong (DSD). It would be 40 mw and it is EIA (environmental impact assessment approved). DSD is EIA approved also.... and DSD is most advance because it has a project agreement set up between the Lao government and Mega First.

- The EIA that the Cambodian National Mekong Committee, CNMC, did for DSD has not been released to the public and it's been completed for years.

- Two dams on the Mekong in Cambodia (Stung Treng and Sambor Dams) have not started building but will relocate 30,000 people if they 'pass' the EIA.

- The value of fish in the Mekong River is $3.2 billion per year.

- There is no way to mitigate water levels and the effects on fish in the Mekong because the fish are so diverse, the water levels are so extreme, and the fish migrate 1000s of kilmoeters yearly. There is no technology to mitigate fish migration. However, the Mekong River Commission says that there are ways to mitigate this and there are ways to be sustainable, such as making the Hou Sadam channel wider manually, but this would not be cost effective and it just wouldn't work.

- Yali Falls Dam in Vietnam (on a tributary of the Mekong) lost 76% of its fish after it built the dam.

- Yali Falls caused many ill effects in Vietnam... drownings, toxic blue green algae from too much oxygen in water, less river farming because of the higher water levels. Tributaries of the Mekong are up to each individual country...mainstream Mekong is up to the MRC.

-Cambodia's position on the DSD is to wait and see if the fish die in Laos. If they do, then Cambodia will build, because saving the fish won't be an issue anymore.

- It's a build - operate - transfer system, which means a private company builds a dam, operates a dam, and 40 years down the road gives it to the respective government. Dams last about 50 years.

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