11 July 2024

The mighty Mekong River has reached a critical point, with the normally brown water turning aquamarine, like sea water, and many sandbars have emerged, some of which are several kilometres long.

Mr. Arthit Panasoon, president of the environment conservation group in Thailand’s north-eastern province of Nakhon Phanom, said today that the rare change in water colour , although attractive and eye-catching, is a deceptively gloomy sign that the river is running critically dry.

He explained that the average water depth is about one metre and is the lowest in more than five decades. Due to the shallow water, the river flows very slowly, causing sedimentation that reacts with riverbed sandstone to produce the aquamarine colour.

He noted that the dry season has just started and it will be another six months before the rains return, but the Mekong river is already drying up, thanks to all the dams in China and Laos and climate change.

Due to the shallow water, the Mekong Paradise cruise ship had to suspend operations on November 28th.  Farmers, who used to draw water from the river, have had to extend the length of their water pipes.