Mekong Utility Watch

Thailand considers de-commissioning one disastrous megadam, building another

(March 3, 2011) The World Wildlife Fund reports that the Government of Thailand is considering de-commissioning the failed Mun River dam, while blasting ahead with another dam in the Mekong region.  Have the lessons of the Mun been forgotten?

Below is an excerpt to the story, and a link to the full article.

World Wildlife Fund, March 3, 2011, Merry-go-round on the Mekong–new dam looms as failed dam faces closure

Investors in proposed Mekong River dams need to absorb the lessons of the Mun River dam, a notable economic failure as well as the cause of massive environmental and social disruption, WWF warned today.

Thailand’s government is considering a plan to permanently open the gates on the Mun River dam in hopes of restoring the river basin ecosystem and reviving livelihoods along one of the country’s primary Mekong tributaries. Since its over-budget construction in the early 1990s, the Mun River dam has decimated the fish population, displaced communities and failed to deliver profit for investors.

Similar risks may accompany the proposed Xayaburi dam, slated for construction on the Mekong River mainstream in northern Laos, because of critical gaps in the understanding of fisheries, biodiversity and sediment movement on Asia’s most biodiverse river.

At stake, according to WWF, are the livelihoods of tens of millions of people in the region.

“The Mekong is a unique and particularly complex ecosystem that hosts the most productive inland fisheries in the world and is second only to the Amazon in number of fish species,” said Dr. Suphasuk Pradubsuk, National Policy Coordinator with WWF-Thailand.

“The lessons of Thailand’s Mun River dam are still fresh: Hasty environmental and social impact studies can lead to a bitter lose-lose situation for both fishermen and dam owners.”

At $233 million, the Mun River dam cost investors twice the original estimate, and energy production fell to a third of expected capacity during the dry season. Return on investment dropped from a projected 12 per cent to 5 per cent.

Read the full story here. [PDFver here]

Further information about the Mung River Dam (Pak Mun Dam)

Something smells fishy

The tragedy of the Pak Mun Dam

Benefit/cost analysis of decommissioning the Pak Mun Dam

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