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Water, Dams and the Mekok River

            Water is an essential element of life, but has become a very scarce resource especially in the past hundred years, due to human activity. The Mekong River is no exception to this due to the high levels of water pollution, unsustainable use, and wasteful use. The Mekong River, also known as the "Mother of Water," is the longest river in Southeast Asia, with a length of 2700 miles, that flows through several countries.1 The river's mostly collects water from rainfall, and is the largest fresh water fishery in the world.2 Not only is The Mekong River a resource, but a way of life and tradition for people that live around and use the river. The water from the Mekong is vital for agricultural production that it provides jobs for 9/10 people in the Lower Mekong Basin and provides the staple diet of 100 million people.3 Even rice cultivation is not possible without irrigation during dry periods.4 With the Mekong River being such a vital resource for millions of people, it has begun to be exploited with no long term consequences in mind. One prime example would be the eleven hydropower dams were proposed to be built, but the plans have been out-dated as they were created prior to the Vietnam War.5 These plans do not consider how countries have changed, new environmental changes, technological changes, and much more.6 .
             One solution would be for the government to reassess these plans to ensure that the dams are really going to benefit the citizens and countries in the long run. There was a United States study done with current data which resulted in a $274 billion deficit rather than a profit of $33 billion for these dams. With the addition of environmental impacts, it is not beneficial, economically or environmentally, to implement these dams. Getting accurate information should be one of the first steps when planning on implementing such a large project that affects millions of people and wildlife.

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