BANGKOK (Reuters) – The inter-governmental Mekong River Commission (MRC) on Thursday called on China and mainland Southeast Asian countries to better coordinate management of Mekong hydropower dams and reservoirs after three years of record low flows and extra dry conditions.

The Mekong River’s flow dropped to the lowest levels in more than six decades from 2019 to 2021 due to an increased number of reservoirs, dams and other water storage, a worsening of the climate situation and unusually low rainfall, a new MRC river flow report showed.

Dry conditions in the past three years have affected navigation, river ecosystems and riverbank stability in the region where tens of millions of people depend on the Mekong for their livelihoods.

The MRC – of which Laos, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam are members – recommends governments of those countries improve coordination on the operation of hydropower dams and water storage in the Mekong basin to ease impacts of drought.

“Proactive cooperation is essential, not just from China but from all the MRC member countries, to jointly address these issues,” said An Pich Hatda, MRC Secretariat Chief Executive Officer.

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There are at least 13 dams along the 4,350 km (2,700 mile) Mekong River, 11 of which are in China.

Authorities in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and China did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the MRC’s call.

The commission last year called for greater data sharing https://reut.rs/3GpEqhv on hydropower operations between China and MRC member countries to improve the management of the river basin.

(Reporting by Panu Wongcha-um; Editing by Martin Petty)

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