The International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Conservation International, in collaboration with the Cambodia National Mekong Committee, disseminated a report May 10 on the Freshwater Health Index, a tool to assess freshwater ecosystem health in the Sesan, Srepok and Sekong rivers, which are major tributaries of the Mekong River.
The livelihood of about 3.4 million people in Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam are a focus of concern because of human activity and hydropower dam development.
The research and assessment on freshwater ecosystem health found that the water quality in the three basin systems was fairly good despite dam construction. But the basin’s ecosystem faces increasing stress, while investment in conservation and restoration remains very low, according to the report.
Nicholas Souter, freshwater research manager Asia-Pacific of Conservation International, said the factors polluting water quality in the three rivers included more pollution from human activities, especially in the lower areas.
Water pollution from agriculture included the use of pesticides in farming and construction of new roads that led to erosion, especially in areas where heavy rains and water discharged from various uses.
“In order to ensure the continued health of this vital system, improved governance, and in particular, improved access to information both between agencies and between the countries, will be critical,” Mr Souter said.