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Open AccessArticle

Using the Freshwater Health Index to Assess Hydropower Development Scenarios in the Sesan, Srepok and Sekong River Basin

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Conservation International, Greater Mekong Program, 12000 Phnom Penh, Cambodia
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Conservation International, Betty and Gordon Moore Center for Science and Oceans, Arlington, VA 22202, USA
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Department of Evolution, Ecology and Organismal Biology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA
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Department of Civil and Natural Resources Engineering, University of Canterbury, Christchurch 8140, New Zealand
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School of GeoSciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh EH8 9YL, UK
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Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL 33620-5350, USA
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Stockholm Environment Institute, Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok 10330, Thailand
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Water 2020, 12(3), 788; https://doi.org/10.3390/w12030788
Received: 18 January 2020 / Revised: 3 March 2020 / Accepted: 4 March 2020 / Published: 12 March 2020
Sustainable water resource management is a wicked problem, fraught with uncertainties, an indeterminate scope, and divergent social values and interests among stakeholders. To facilitate better management of Southeast Asia’s transboundary Sesan, Sekong and Srepok (3S) River basin, we used the Freshwater Health Index (FHI) to diagnose the basin’s current and likely future level of freshwater health. We used the conditions for December 2016 as a baseline, where Ecosystem Vitality and Ecosystem Services scored 66 and 80, respectively, out of a possible 100, whilst Governance & Stakeholders scored 43. Thus, the 3S provided a range of desired ecosystem services, but there were signs of environmental stress as well as undeveloped water governance systems and limited stakeholder engagement. We also modelled four hydropower development scenarios and found that increasing development reduced the scores of a subset of indicators. This compromised the future ability of the 3S basin’s ecosystem to provide its current range of services. The FHI helped identify data deficiencies, illuminated important social dynamics, made ecosystem–human–water dynamics more understandable to stakeholders, and examined the long-term dynamics of the basin. View Full-Text
Keywords: freshwater ecosystems; ecosystem services; water governance; Freshwater Health Index; lower Mekong; hydropower freshwater ecosystems; ecosystem services; water governance; Freshwater Health Index; lower Mekong; hydropower
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Souter, N.J.; Shaad, K.; Vollmer, D.; Regan, H.M.; Farrell, T.A.; Arnaiz, M.; Meynell, P.-J.; Cochrane, T.A.; Arias, M.E.; Piman, T.; Andelman, S.J. Using the Freshwater Health Index to Assess Hydropower Development Scenarios in the Sesan, Srepok and Sekong River Basin. Water 2020, 12, 788.

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