Laos Issues New Decree on Dam Management

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Laos to Inspect Hydropower Dams Every 5 Years (Photo Ngam Ngiep 1)
Ngam Ngiep 1 Hydropower Project

Authorities announced on Thursday that the government of Laos has released new instructions for handling hydropower dams aimed at mitigating water shortages and floods.
The new decree, effective 4 March, requires hydropower operators to alert authorities once dam reservoirs achieve full capacity or when downstream river levels drop to a critical level, Vientiane Times reports.

If water levels of downstream rivers dry up or are inadequate for use in a manner that impacts ecology, and agricultural, and industrial production, or has other effects, operators are obligated to report the situation.

The 18-page decree defines the circumstances in which hydropower plant operators are required to provide notification. These include the point when water inflow is such that the level in a reservoir reaches the maximum storage level or critical point, according to the Vientiane Times.

In situations when river levels downstream of a dam rise to or fall to a critical level, notification must also be made.

Hydropower plant operators are also required to provide solutions and make financial contributions in support of local people’s mental and physical wellbeing as well as paying compensation for loss of property in the event of damages caused by water storage or discharge.

Effective river and water resources management, especially those used by hydropower plants, is seen as crucial as Laos aims to build more dams and become a major electricity exporter.