Mekong Water Levels to Drop Due to Power Grid Maintenance in China

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MRC - Mekong Countries Urged to Address Low Water Flows
Mekong River upstream from Vientiane Capital, January 2019 (Photo: Jason Rolan)

The water outflow at Jinghong hydropower station in China’s Yunnan province is dropping due to power grid maintenance during 5–24 January 2021, leading to changes in river water levels along the Mekong River in Thailand, Lao PDR, and Cambodia.

According to a notification from China’s Ministry of Water Resources that the Mekong River
Commission Secretariat (MRCS) received on January 5, the “maintenance of transmission lines of the power grid” will result in water outflow reduction at 1,000 cubic meters per second (m3/s) from 5 to 24 January.

The amount of water flow will be gradually restored to its normal operation status on January 25, the notification said. However, the Ministry did not specify the river level before the reduction or the volume to be restored on 25 January.

Based on the MRC’s observed water level data at Jinghong available until January 4, the outflow level started decreasing from 1,410 m3/s on 31 December 2020 to 768 m3/s on 1 January 2021, representing an almost 50% drop. But the flow rose slightly to just 786 m3/s over 1-4 January.

As a result, water levels along the Mekong River are likely to drop by about 1.20 meters, according to MRC’s observed and forecasting water level data.