China has agreed to provide the Mekong River Commission (MRC) with year-round hydrological data, contributing to better river monitoring and flood and drought forecasting in the Mekong countries.
The agreement was signed on Thursday between China’s Ministry of Water Resources and the MRC during a one-day virtual MRC Dialogue Partners Meeting, an annual meeting held by the MRC and its upstream Dialogue Partners: China and Myanmar.
“This agreement is a landmark in the history of China-MRC cooperation,” said Dr. An Pich Hatda, the MRC Secretariat Chief Executive Officer, at the signing ceremony.
He added that as water infrastructure operations in the basin and tributaries are increasingly contributing to river flow changes and fluctuations that can impact riverine communities, more operational data sharing will be critical to the management of the Mekong River.
“The increased regulation of the basin and the opportunities and challenges it brings calls for greater data and information sharing, improved water release notifications, coordination of operations, and enhanced early warning systems,” Dr. Hatda said.
Over the last 18 years, China has shared its water level and rainfall data during June – October in the flood season from two hydrological stations located on the Upper Mekong mainstream at Yunjinghong and on a tributary at Manan, both in China’s southwestern Yunnan province.
The new agreement will see China extend its current data-sharing schedule to provide year-round data from the two stations. Data will be shared twice daily and include rainfall and river level data.
China has also agreed to share urgent information on any unusual rise or fall in water levels and discharges, as well as other relevant information on factors that might lead to sudden flooding in the lower reaches of the basin.
Since 1996, the MRC and China have worked together on a number of collaborative initiatives, including annual dialogue meetings, data and information sharing, joint symposiums and joint studies, and technical exchanges on water resources development, environmental protection, and hydropower development.