The Mekong is reeling from the combined onslaught of climate change, sand-mining, and incessant damming of the river, which combined to help cause the worst drought recorded in over 100 years in July.
“This is the worst ecological disaster in history of the of Mekong region,” declared Thai natural resources expert Chainarong Setthachua.
The water level in the Tonle Sap, Cambodia’s great inland lake, the “beating heart of the Mekong,” was reduced to unprecedented shallow areas with one floating village almost completely dried up. Almost unbelievable for Tonle Sap locals was that this happened in not in the dry season, but two months into the rainy season.
Youk Sengleng an NGO fisheries expert stationed by the Tonle Sap, shared his observations: “Many fish died because of the shallow water, hot temperature, and toxic water resulting from lack of oxygen. Around 2.5 million people who depend on the lake’s once abundant fisheries have been directly affected.”
Taking too much water out of a river essentially sucks the life out of it. Pollutants become more concentrated and water flows dwindle, resulting in the build-up of sediments that clog up the river bed.
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