Hydropower development in Laos: Don Sahong
experience in addressing social and environmental issues

Session Question:
Why...
Overview: Measures of success for Don Sahong
Choosing a good location
Negotiating CA with Govt of Laos
Changing public per...
Siphandone (4000 Islands)
One geological feature - the Great Fault Line

Siphandone
Area

Phapheng Falls

Great Fault Line...
Great Fault Line - a natural dam
Phapheng Falls: natural spillway and formidable barrier

3rd Mekong Forum on
Water, Food ...
Is Don Sahong a good Hydro Power site?
World Bank - *Good Dams and Bad Dams

* Criteria from “Good Dams and Bad Dams: Envi...
Is Don Sahong a good Hydro Power site?
YES - if fish migration impacts are mitigated
Don

Indicator

Unit

Area flooded

k...
Negotiating a Concession Agreement
• CA agreement not yet signed
• Special Environmental and Social Obligations
– Don Saho...
Debunking the myths
MYTH – Construction is underway

FACT - No Concession Agreement so no construction work
MYTH - Will bl...
Debunking the myths
MYTH - Will block the ONLY dry season upstream migration pathway

FACT - other natural dry season path...
Open Letter from “Concerned Scientists” (2007)
“there is no [constructed fishway] design
available anywhere in the world t...
Project is not proposing constructions like these

3rd Mekong Forum on
Water, Food and
Energy, November 2013

Presented by...
But we have trialed improvements in the Wai, Xang
Pheuak Noi, and Sadam channels

Hou Xang Pheuak Noi
Modified 2012
Hou Wa...
Achievements in the pre-construction phase
•
•

Three trial migration pathways completed
Influenced behaviour of local fis...
Don Sahong policies for environmental and
social sustainability
• One guiding principle
– “No one should be disadvantaged ...
Session Question
Why is it sensible for Don Sahong Project to pursue
successful social and environmental policies and
stra...
Real environmental and social risks
• If fishermen don’t have viable alternative
livelihoods?
• Consequence- increased fis...
Minimising project risk
• This project is ensuring that environmental
and social mitigation measures do not fail by:
– Dev...
THANK YOU

Tat Liew: main constriction point in Hou Sahong and
favoured location for (illegal) lee traps

Slide 18
Fishing pressure is intense in the dry season
One branch of Hou Sadam (February 2013)

3rd Mekong Forum on Water,
Food and...
Dry season passage through Tat Pho – H. Sahong
12 Lee traps
below the
Tat Pho rapid

Add a pic of fish traps in H Sahong

...
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Hydropower development in laos don sahong experience in addressing social and environmental issues

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3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food & Energy 2013. Presentation from Session 10: Private sector policies for contributing to environmental and social sustainability

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  • Don Sahong experience –why should hydropower developers try to implement successful S&E policies?Don Sahong is a controversial project with relatively long development history.Identified in 1994 MRC hydropower review. MOU signed between MFCB and GOL in 2005Over that time and many myths have developed around the project.At the present time there are only two real issues 1- Legal - whether GoL has complied with MA 95 - Leave that to GoL and MRC to resolve 2nd issue is environmental - the potential for the project to reduce the success of fish migration upstream across the Khone falls
  • What I am particularly keen to see in the session is how a failure to take into consideration social andenvironmental impacts represents real, long-term, costs and problems for hydropower companies.The measures to mitigate Don Sahong project’s impacts on fish migration are under intense scrutiny Both from downstream neighbours and international interest groups.But the project’s greatest test will be to meet our own commitment to increase the success of fish migration across the Khone falls
  • LEDEC, G. & QUINTERO, J. D. 2003. Good Dams and Bad Dams: Environmental Criteria for Site Selection of Hydroelectric Projects The World Bank, Latin America and Caribbean Region, Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Department (LCSES).
  • LEDEC, G. & QUINTERO, J. D. 2003. Good Dams and Bad Dams: Environmental Criteria for Site Selection of Hydroelectric Projects The World Bank, Latin America and Caribbean Region, Environmentally and Socially Sustainable Development Department (LCSES).
  • ICEM (SEA 2010) - efficient fish passes for mainstream dams are unrealistic. Don Sahong,  is the only dam for which a fish pass (in this case a nature-like bypass channel) might be operational.  Indirect affect on 250,217 people (strangely precise number. This assumes the fish passes are not operational)ICEM 2010 Annex III - MAINSTREAM  POWER  ALTERNATIVES - Partial in-channel dams Sahong model recommended as a possible alternative for other Mekong DamsICEM 2010 – Application of Fish Passes - Natural bypass channels that mimic a ‘real’ stream; Common in Europe and North America; Only possible in certain areas and for very low dams like Don Sahong. (Icem 2010 p 171)Al Jazeera – “Scientists and environmentalists say the dam will ….. put at risk the integrity of the entire Lower Mainstream Mekong River.”WWF press release, 04 October 2013 - The Don Sahong dam will block the only channel available for dry-season fish migrations on the Mekong River, putting the world’s largest inland fishery at risk.Al Jazeera (Thin Lei Win Last Modified: 27 Oct 2013 10:1) - “The Mekong River flows through China, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos. Its basin is the world's biggest inland fishery - providing food and jobs for some 60 million people and valued at an estimated $5.6 billion to $9.4 billion a year - and is second only to the Amazon in biodiversity.
  • DeletedMRC Preliminary Design Guidance (2009)“in dams greater than approximately six metres in height… natural fish passages are unlikely to be effective for upstream migration”This is true – but we do not plan a 20 meter high fishway
  • Developers are encouraged to utilize best international practice in fish passage design and be aware of the outputs of the MRC Fisheries Programme and ensure that a “core expert group” is retained.
  • The overall goal of the social development program is to make sure that “directly affected people are measurably better off because of the project than they were before”.Session that MFCB could present in "Private sector policies for contributing to environmental and social sustainability",Intro………………Many dam developers in the Mekong have social and environmental policies; many have implemented successful social and environmental policies and strategies. What social and environmental policies and strategies has MFCB implemented?We are still in the early stages as CA has not yet been signed But we have prepared a blue print…What can different dam developers learn from each other in the implementation of these policies?LEARNINGS from usCautious approach - do your homework.Be professional don’t take short cuts Why do they make sense to pursue?ENLIGHTENED SELF-INTEREST:“what is in the public interest is eventually in the interest of all individuals and groups”BIG Mining is Australia has changed from “pillagers” in to the single biggest investors in development of indigenous people in the country (Prof. Marcia Langton academic and activist 2013)“persons who act to further the interests of others, ultimately serve their own self-interest.”1 -What can MFCB learn from other developers in implementing these policies 2 - Why is it sensible to pursue successful social and environmental policies?
  • Enlightened self-interest: “what is in the public interest is eventually in the interest of all individuals and groups”
  • The Vice Minister of Mines and Energy in Lao PDR (HE Viraphonh Viravong) publically reminded us of the GOL view last week when he said“If anything happens [to reduce fish migration success], it’s so easy: You just blast the dam and it becomes another natural waterfall”
  • Hydropower development in laos don sahong experience in addressing social and environmental issues

    1. 1. Hydropower development in Laos: Don Sahong experience in addressing social and environmental issues Session Question: Why is it sensible for hydropower developers to pursue successful social and environmental policies and strategies? 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, November 2013 Presented by Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) Slide 1
    2. 2. Overview: Measures of success for Don Sahong Choosing a good location Negotiating CA with Govt of Laos Changing public perception of Don Sahong Project 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, November 2013 Presented by Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) Slide 2
    3. 3. Siphandone (4000 Islands) One geological feature - the Great Fault Line Siphandone Area Phapheng Falls Great Fault Line Don Sahong dam site Landsat Image 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, November 2013 Presented by Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) Slide 3
    4. 4. Great Fault Line - a natural dam Phapheng Falls: natural spillway and formidable barrier 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, November 2013 Presented by Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) Slide 4
    5. 5. Is Don Sahong a good Hydro Power site? World Bank - *Good Dams and Bad Dams * Criteria from “Good Dams and Bad Dams: Environmental Criteria for Site Selection of Hydroelectric Project”, World Bank, 2003 **WB did not mention this but impacts on biomass can also be very important Slide 5
    6. 6. Is Don Sahong a good Hydro Power site? YES - if fish migration impacts are mitigated Don Indicator Unit Area flooded km2 1.2 Families resettled PAH 1 15 Families direct affected PAH 2 300 Water retention (water quality) Hours <4 Power density W/m2 Flood Area /Power Potential effect on biodiversity (and biomass)** Sahong Score Guideline to assess ESIA risk    Minor loss of terrestrial habitat New houses less than 2km away Little community disruption  Water quality unchanged Reservoir easily flushed 204  Hydro more GG efficient than equivalent thermal power at > 0.5 Ha/MW 0.5  Small is best - global average is 60 Aquatic protected species +++ x Need specific management plans * Criteria from “Good Dams and Bad Dams: Environmental Criteria for Site Selection of Hydroelectric Project”, World Bank, 2003 Slide 6 **WB did not mention this but impacts on biomass can also be very important
    7. 7. Negotiating a Concession Agreement • CA agreement not yet signed • Special Environmental and Social Obligations – Don Sahong is negotiating SESO version 25 – 66 clauses plus Appendices • Laws and regulations to protect people of Lao PDR against social and environmental damage by hydropower developers are in place 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, November 2013 Presented by Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) Slide 7
    8. 8. Debunking the myths MYTH – Construction is underway FACT - No Concession Agreement so no construction work MYTH - Will block the mainstream of the Mekong FACT - project will dam one of seven major channels crossing the Khone falls MYTH - Will devastate the endangered Irrawaddy dolphins FACT - Threat to dolphins is from existing, poorly managed human activities MYTH - Will trap sediment and reduce fertility in the delta FACT - Sediment trapping is insignificant 2% of annual load for first 2-3 years – then equilibrium 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, November 2013 Presented by Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) 8
    9. 9. Debunking the myths MYTH - Will block the ONLY dry season upstream migration pathway FACT - other natural dry season pathways exist. Don Sahong Project is committed to improving them for fish migration. The biggest myth of all – closing the Hou Sahong as a pathway for upstream fish migration cannot be mitigated. 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, November 2013 Presented by Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) 9
    10. 10. Open Letter from “Concerned Scientists” (2007) “there is no [constructed fishway] design available anywhere in the world that would enable the numerous species to move through it under the wide range of flow conditions” November 2013 Presented by Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) 10
    11. 11. Project is not proposing constructions like these 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, November 2013 Presented by Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) 11
    12. 12. But we have trialed improvements in the Wai, Xang Pheuak Noi, and Sadam channels Hou Xang Pheuak Noi Modified 2012 Hou Wai modified 2011 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, November 2013 Hou Sadam modified 2013 Presented by Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) Slide 12
    13. 13. Achievements in the pre-construction phase • • Three trial migration pathways completed Influenced behaviour of local fishers • • to remove their traps and establish conservation zones Acquired extensive fishery baseline data • developing rigorous scientific methods to monitor performance These engineering, social and scientific capabilities are necessary for the project to achieve its primary environmental goal To improve the proportion of fish successfully migrating upstream across the Khone falls 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, November 2013 Presented by Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) Slide 13
    14. 14. Don Sahong policies for environmental and social sustainability • One guiding principle – “No one should be disadvantaged by this project” • Win-Win-Win outcome – Benefit local community (better living standards) – Benefit to nation and region (cheap green energy) – Benefit to the developer (return on investment) • What is the biggest project risk? – Not mitigating environmental and social impacts successfully 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, November 2013 Presented by Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) Slide 14
    15. 15. Session Question Why is it sensible for Don Sahong Project to pursue successful social and environmental policies and strategies? Enlightened self-interest “what is in the public interest is eventually in the interest of all individuals and groups” What are the consequences for this developer if the environmental and social mitigation measures fail? 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, November 2013 Presented by Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) Slide 15
    16. 16. Real environmental and social risks • If fishermen don’t have viable alternative livelihoods? • Consequence- increased fishing pressure on alternative fish migration pathways • If alternative migration pathways are ineffective? • Consequence – potential breach of contract – Minister Viraphonh “If anything happens [to reduce fish migration success], it’s so easy: You just blast the dam and it becomes another natural waterfall” 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, November 2013 Presented by Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) Slide 16
    17. 17. Minimising project risk • This project is ensuring that environmental and social mitigation measures do not fail by: – Developing very detailed understanding of the physical nature of the Khone falls around the project – Establishing rigorous defensible monitoring and research programs centered on the fishes – Learning from the experience of others 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, November 2013 Presented by Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) Slide 17
    18. 18. THANK YOU Tat Liew: main constriction point in Hou Sahong and favoured location for (illegal) lee traps Slide 18
    19. 19. Fishing pressure is intense in the dry season One branch of Hou Sadam (February 2013) 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, November 2013 Presented by Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) Slide 19
    20. 20. Dry season passage through Tat Pho – H. Sahong 12 Lee traps below the Tat Pho rapid Add a pic of fish traps in H Sahong Main constriction for upstream migration at Tat Pho 3rd Mekong Forum on Water, Food and Energy, November 2013 Presented by Mega First Corporation Berhad (MFCB) Slide 20

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