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Dam Construction Is Set to Destroy the 'Mother of all Rivers'

A series of dams proposed along the Mekong River threaten 41 fish species with extinction and puts the livelihoods of nearly half a million people at risk.

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What's worse is that there's no evidence that the electricity from Xayaburi Dam is really needed. The project is supposed to supply electricity to Thailand, yet Thailand's electricity utility EGAT consistently overestimates future demand, and in 2010 the utility had a whopping 30% reserve margin. The Strategic Environmental Assessment found that all 11 mainstream dams would generate the equivalent of one year's increase in electricity demand for the lower Mekong Basin. Viewed in this light, the case for damming the Mekong mainstream is incredibly short-sighted.

For the sake of the Mekong River and its inhabitants, we must hope that reason prevails when the governments meet next week, and that the decision-makers look beyond their own short political lives and into a future in which a healthy, undammed Mekong continues to provide for generations to come. Their grandchildren will thank them.

Take action nowto stop the Xayaburi Dam.

Aviva Imhof is Interim Executive Director at International Rivers, an environmental and human rights organization based in Berkeley, California.

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