Monday, November 30, 2009

Mekong River bank erosion in Vientiane

The stretch of Mekong River between Laos and Thailand is characterized by its meandering course and relatively low gradient through the Khorat plateau and the Isaan. The major consequence of this characteristic is the natural instability of the River banks, its erosion and a growing sedimentation of the river itself.

The Mekong River also changes largely in river height occurring between the rainy season in the months of May to September and the the dry seasons in the rest of the year.

Annual flooding along the Mekong River and its tributaries cause a progressive weakening of the river's embankments. It is this process, which creates steep sloping river banks at various locations along the Mekong river. This phenomenon poses a constant danger to village houses and temples, roads and agricultural land situated along the Mekong River.

Erosion occurs and is affected by the following natural factors: heavy rainfall, vanishing vegetation cover, river bank soil in-stability and river sedimentation amongst other conditions.

In Vientiane, the bigger parts of the Mekong River banks have been cleared of trees and vegetation. Some places along Don Chan Island have been re-used for agricultural purposes. Local people planted vegetables and crops along the banks – raising concerns with the Vientiane municipality and the Lao government about the increased erosion of the unprotected river banks during high flow periods.

Therefore in Vientiane and other places, river bank revetment is considered to be the best engineering solution to stop and prevent the more and more serious Mekong River bank erosion.

To date, approximately 3 km of river bank protection and revetment work has been undertaken and more is to follow.

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