Laos has started releasing water from its dams to the Mekong River to help Vietnam's southern region cope with severe drought and saltwater intrusion, according to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The ministry on Friday quoted Lao Minister of Energy and Mines Khammany Inthirath as saying that Laos had discharged around 1,136 cubic meters of water per second to the lower Mekong River basin on Wednesday. The country planned to keep doing so until the end of May.
Together with the water discharged from a Chinese dam and some rivers in Thailand, the total amount of water to be released along the Mekong River to Vietnam will be around 3,611 cubic meters per second.
The water is expected to reach the Mekong Delta in the first week of April, according to the ministry.
China on March 15 said it will release water from its Jinghong dam on the Mekong River to help mitigate severe drought in some Vietnamese provinces.
Vietnam had previously asked China to increase the outflow from the dam in Yunnan Province since some provinces in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam's major farming region, are suffering from drought and saltwater intrusion.
Chinese authorities announced they would quickly implement a plan to discharge water from March 15 to April 4, according to the foreign ministry.
On Wednesday, leaders from China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam met at the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation summit in China’s Hainan province to discuss cooperation in sharing and protecting water resources of the Mekong River.
Beijing’s dam and hydropower projects have provoked complaints from neighboring countries over their impact on water levels and the environment, according to the South China Morning Post.
Due to the effects of El Nino, rainfall in the region plummeted by 20-30 percent, while the amount of water flowing from the Mekong River's upper reaches to Vietnam fell by half, leading to serious saltwater intrusion in the Mekong Delta.