Water Dams Water Dams Most dams are designed to accomplish a variety of functions, which include flood control, flat water recreation, hydropower electricity generation, and water supply. Although these seem like good reasons for the existence of dams, this type of constructions bring greater negative effects than good ones. The “environment effects of dams include loss of land and biological resources to inundation, reservoir sedimentation and downstream erosion, and hydrological changes unfavorable to many native or desirable species.” Dams just strangle rivers and the perfect example of the damage dams cause to rivers is what is happening to the Mekong River in Asia. The Mekong river covers more than 4500 kilometers through 6 countries. It crosses through the Chinis providence of Yunnan, borders Birmania, It divides Thailand and Laos, cuts through Cambodia, passes through South Vietnam, and finally ends in the China Ocean.
The Mekong sustains 100 million people, who not only depend on this river for their alimentation or water, but also for irrigation, and for traveling, and sometimes just for recreation. The Thailandese people call it the “Mother “of rivers. Today like many rivers in the world, the Mekong is in danger. The reason is the massive and not well planned construction of dams. These constructions have started to threaten the ecosystem of the river, as well as the subsistence of dozens of communities along its shore. This dams, which have mostly been build last decate, provide energy to southwest Asia.
But they also stop the natural migration of fishes, and affect their reproduction and alter the level and quality of water. Some people who live around the river refer to the dams constructions as evil and they say that they have destroyed the happiness of their family. Like in many other places in the world the constructions of dams in the Mekong has caused deforastation, it has destroyed the wild life and has caused the displacement of thousands of poor people who live along the river. These types of damages are being revaluated to see if the benefits of these dams are superior to the environmental and social costs. The Comision of The Mekon river, an organization which normally defends development in Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, said that “the ecosystem of the Mekong was deteriorating” and added: “If the current riddem of damage continues, the forests, the biodiversity, the existence of fish and quality of the soil will all be damaged to the point were recuperation will be impossible.
For some years now, many Asian countries have looked at the Mekong River as an opportunity to generate electricity and with this be able to develop faster. Being that most of the regions around the rive are poor governments have looked at the Mekong as a way to produce money. China and Laos in particular have argumented about the potential the river can give them. China insists that the dams, created to give energy to cities in the province of Yunnan, wont damage the Mekong. And Beijing insists that the dams will be of benefit to countries south of the damn because it will equilibrate the flow of the river by controlling the quantities of water to be flown during droughts and flowd seasons. But people who oppose to this project ask what will happen if china is under a huge drought? Will they close the damn and stay with all the water living nothing to the countries on the south? Or what will happen if they suffer from an intense drought? Will they let all the water go causing inundations on the south? Some activist, are worried that Beijing already acts like the owner of the Mekong.
China is not ready to change its plans for a negative impact outside its borders. Outside of China the sentiment towards the dams has changed considerable. The experts all agree that the dams kill wild life and the habitat of the fish. The environmentalists say that once the costs for compensation of the land and financial damages to individuals are calculated having in mind the cost of construction of the damns, many of the skeems of hydroelectric energy in the Mekong won’t be successful. Last year, the World Bank, an organization that has support the building of dams, and the World Union of Conservation gave an important study of two years of the economic, ecologic, and social impacts of 45,000 big dams around the world.
Although they recognized that the dams had done an important contribution to the development of these countries, the report also stated that in many cases an unacceptable and unnecessary price has been paid by displaced communities and by the natural environment. The experts estimate that more than 100,000 in China, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam have been obligated to leave their houses because of the dams. The report was particularly critic in the Pack Moon damn in Thailand. This dam has prevented the free migration of fish around the river and because of this from 265 species of fish that used to live in the river 96 species are left and the majority without commercial value. As a consequence fishing has gone down by an 80%.
As a result most of the fishermen have moved to Bangkok in look for lower jobs. The study stated that if the Moon project was to be evaluated for construction today it wouldn’t be accepted. Thanks to this it is believed that constructions of dams in Thailand wont be accepted for now. A director from Terra, an environmental group, says that this dams are only a threat to the Mekong river. As the Mekong River, many rivers around the world are being strangle by dams.
Although they may seem as useful constructions to improve the economic development of countries, in the end the negative effects from them bring more cost than gains. Countries should make deeper studies of the impacts of dams in their ecosystem before jumping into there construction. Without the proper study, headaches are the only thing countries are going to get from dams and the Mekong river is the perfect example. Environmental Issues.