The Worldwide Water Crisis Australia to Laos


Warragamba Dam


Xayaburi Dam
In Laos 65% of the population have sustainable access to improved drinking water sources.
In Australia 100% have sustainable access to improved drinking water sources.
Laos is a developing country that surprisingly has rich water resources due to the tropical monsoon climate and an average annual rainfall ranging from 1,300 mm per year in the northern valleys to 3,700mm per year at higher elevations in the South. Annual national supply of renewable fresh water is 270 billion m³, or about 600,000 m³ per person, while current demand is only 259m³/person. This consequently results in the country relying greatly on their water resources for Irrigation, Hydro-power, Navigation, Fisheries, Urban Water Supply, and Rural Water Supply. Australia is a developed country that has a high standard of water by world standards, but with 70% of the continent being a semi arid to arid desert and the annual rainfall of below 600mm, Australia's reliance on water management strategies, and therefore dams, is immensely high.
Every country has issues concerning dams and water related infrastructure that need to be resolved through the use of a diverse range of management strategies. The strategies are implemented to prevent harm from affecting any people or ecosystems that could be negatively influenced by the addition to the environment.

Xayaburi Dam is located along the Mekong basin and reflects the balance between the stream self-cleaning potential and human pressure on the riparian zone. The issues that will arise with Xayaburi dam were; the disruption of fish spawning routes, the blocking sediment flow and the allowance of the incursion of saline water upstream. The dam could also affect the communities downstream and the people working along the Mekong such as fishmen.

The Dam will impact; flow dynamics, water quality, nutrients, sediment, habitat fragmentation and aquatic biodiversity. Due to these environmental impacts the EIA stated, ‘It is recommended to identify and describe the physical characteristics of these habitats for future habitat recovery before impoundment.' Due to these discovered impacts a few management strategies have been established to decrease the impact that the dam will have on the ecosystem. The main and most influential strategies include; a fish pass, built with 2 fish ladders both 3m deep x 10m wide, one 600m long, other 800m long, which would allow for migration and any necessary aquatic movement and the water being kept largely flowing so the daily flow regime is not affected.

Strategies to prevent unnatural intervention of sea life

Warragamba dam is located south of the Blue Mountains and about 65 kilometres west of Sydney. The Australian Government maintains the water quality, according to Australian Drinking guidelines, through a systematic and standardised approach. The Australian Government is also required to Implement programs to reduce risks and issues relating to water quality. The main ecological issues that affect the dam include; Livestock and grazing, fertilizers and Mining and Quarries. These issues are each combated using specific and effective strategies such as community education, monitoring-water testing, Financial assistance and Planning and regulations. However, because the dam supplies water to 80% of Sydney, it is essential to maintain the water quality so it does not have negative effect on someone's health. WaterNSW protects the health of the catchments to ensure reliable, quality drinking water is available for the 4.5 million people of Sydney and the Illawarra, Blue Mountains, Southern Highlands, Goulburn and Shoalhaven regions. A multi-barrier approach incorporating; the catchment, reservoirs, delivery, treatment, tap is taken to guarantee safe, drinkable water.

The multi-barrier approach

The addition and necessity for dams throughout Laos is evident. The government subsequently proves this fact when they stated:

'The proposed mainstream dams are essential to the country's rise out of poverty, and will help wean it off dependency on foreign aid.'

The Australian Government similarly realises the importance of dams to maintain affective water management strategies, as they stated:

'The development of better techniques of planning and management are essential if we are to make the best use of our resources.'
Implementing any kind of water management project is guaranteed to be a huge financial stress. But due to the necessity for a reliable and constant supply of water for both electrical power and life, the immense cost is a barrier that is simply required to be overcome.
Xayaburi dam

Xayaburi dam construction started in 2012 and will be finished in 2020.

Xayaburi dam cost $3.8 Billion for full construction and is owned by a private power company called Xayaburi Power Company.

The dam's construction will ultimately cause around 2,100 people to be resettled, and more than 202,000 people living in the dam's area will experience impacts due to the loss of agricultural land and riverbank gardens.

Warragamba dam

Warragamba dam took 12 years and 1,800 workers to build the dam, which opened in 1960.

It took $1 billion to raise the dam to a safe height.

The concrete used was mixed on site using 305,000 tonnes of cement and 2.5 million tonnes of sand and gravel. The sand and gravel was transported from McCann's Island in the Nepean River via an aerial ropeway.


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Ribolzi, O, Cuny, J, Sengsoulichanh, P, Mousquès, C, Soulileuth, B, Pierret, A, Huon, S, & Sengtaheuanghoung, O 2011, 'Land Use and Water Quality Along a Mekong Tributary in Northern Lao P.D.R', Environmental Management, 47, 2, pp. 291-302, GreenFILE, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 March 2017.

Crabb, Peter. “Australia's Water Resources: A Second Review.” Geographical Review, vol. 68, no. 4, 1978, pp. 483–485.,

“Managing The Catchment - Waternsw". N.p., 2017. Web. 13 Mar. 2017.

Xayaburi. 1st ed. PÖYRY, 2017. Web. 13 Mar. 2017.

"Warragamba Dam - Waternsw". N.p., 2017. Web. 13 Mar. 2017.

Brady, B 2011, 'Xayaburi dam divides Laos and stirs tension over Mekong hydropower', Ecologist, 40, 28, pp. 15-19, GreenFILE, EBSCOhost, viewed 12 March 2017.

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