The Greater Mekong Region (GMR) is currently one of the most active areas in the world for development of new hydropower projects. This has and will bring challenges, particularly regarding finding good solutions to mitigate pressures and impacts on the environment, fisheries and people’s livelihoods, amongst others.
Developing sustainable mitigation guidelines and recommendations
The first part of the study includes an assessment of the key risks and impacts already highlighted for operational and planned hydropower projects in the Lower Mekong Basin, including its tributaries. The risks and impacts of operational and planned projects will be studied to understand how successful the proposed risk management and mitigation recommendations are and have been and to understand lessons learned from those projects.
Similar assessments will also be made in part two of the study, which involves a pilot study of selected cascade hydropower projects on the Mekong mainstream north of Vientiane in Laos. Good practise cumulative impacts mitigation guidelines and recommendations derived from the first part of the study will be tested related to their cost and benefits in the pilot study. Consideration will be given to the requirements for joint hydropower cascade operation/mitigation for measures such as sediment management, flood management, dam safety considerations, emergency response etc. Integrated water resources, hydraulic and hydropower modelling will play a key role in the above assessment.
“This interdisciplinary project, which is being led by Multiconsult’s hydrology and water resources section, will aim to propose best practice solutions for mitigation guidelines by combining technical excellence with solutions that are good in terms of environmental considerations and integrated water management. The most important environmental mitigation considerations will be related to fisheries and aquatic ecology and sediment management, but other topics will also be considered,” explains Multiconsult’s project manager Leif Birger Lillehammer.
The project’s main deliverable is sustainable hydropower mitigation guidelines and strategies with an emphasis on best practise solutions, but Multiconsult and Deltares have also been asked to identify knowledge gaps and suggest topics for further research and development within identified areas.
Developing hydropower resources through transboundary collaboration
The Mekong River Commission (MRC) was established in 1995. The MRC is an intergovernmental institution that works directly with the Governments of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam, in order to promote and coordinate the shared interests of the countries in terms of managing water resources and the sustainable development of the Mekong. It is in the context of this that Multiconsult has been commissioned to assess the hydropower plans for the Mekong with regard to mitigation guidelines and recommendations.