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Mekong Delta faces crippling drought, more saline intrusion

(11:08:46 AM 16/03/2015)
(Tinmoitruong.vn) - A shortage of fresh water and severe saline intrusion has seriously affected agricultural cultivation in the Mekong Delta since mid-February.

 

 Mekong Delta faces crippling drought, more saline intrusion

 

A field in Soc Trang Province's Long Phu District suffers from severe drought. A shortage of fresh water and saline intrusion has affected agricultural crops in the Mekong Delta region. 

 

Farmer Phan Van Thi, of Go Cong town in Tien Giang province told Tin Tuc (News) newspaper that he must get up early every day to pump water for his one-hectare rice field. He said fresh water in canals had been low.

 

More than 2,000 hectares of rice in the districts of Cho Gao, Go Cong Tay, Go Cong Dong and Go Cong town could be affected due to drought and saline intrusion, according to the Tien Giang Agriculture and Rural Development Department's Irrigation Agency.

 

Another 6,000 hectares of rice will lack fresh water by the end of the main crop when all drains must be closed to stop the salty water.

 

The same situation has occurred in Hau Giang province. According to the provincial Agriculture and Rural Development Department, severe heat has caused saline intrusion in fields.

 

As many as 25,000 hectares of winter-spring crop are threatened in districts Phung Hiep, Chau Thanh A, Long My and Vi Thuy and Vi Thanh city.

 

In Tra Vinh, salty water has intruded 50 km inside the mainland. Salinity level this year is higher by 5.6 – 7.7 per cent compared with last year and has affected thousands of hectares of rice.

 

Meanwhile, in Bac Lieu, salinity has reached an alarming level, and in many river systems, salinity is double that of the same period last year. Around 20,000 hectares of winter-spring crop in Phuoc Long and Hong Dan districts are affected.

 

Drought and saline intrusion have been occurring earlier in the Mekong Delta for several years due to climate changes.

 

According to the Southern Hydrometeorology Station, saline intrusion has entered 40 – 60 km in the Mekong Delta with salinity from 1 – 3 per cent/thousand, and will go up to 5 -6 per cent/thousand. It is expected to continue until May.

 

To cope with the situation, Tien Giang Province has invested VND25 billion (US$1.2 million) to dredge irrigation systems and pump more fresh water to stop saline intrusion in fields.

 

The province will dredge 138 canal systems, build 166 dykes and set up 200 pumping stations in areas with drought.

 

Bac Lieu Province has also invested VND83 billion ($4 million) to build 300 irrigation works and canals to cope with drought and saline intrusion.

 

In Hau Giang Province, dykes and pumping stations have been checked and repaired to preserve water in fields and limit salty water.

 

All provinces have guided farmers to keep fresh water from the Phung Hiep canal system in depressions, ponds and lakes.

 

Authorities have also warned owners of gardens, vegetable cultivation and fish breeders in rivers to keep a close watch on river salinity to protect their crops.

 

Mekong Delta faces increased landslide and subsidence risk

 

Experts from Utrecht University of the Netherlands and Can Tho University held a seminar on Wednesday, March 11, to discuss solutions to landslide and land subsidence in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta.

 

 

 Mekong Delta faces crippling drought, more saline intrusion

Land subsidence has caused cracks on Cai Rang Bridge in Can Tho City. — Photo: VNN 

 

At the seminar, Prof Dr Le Van Tri, head of the Institute of the Mekong Delta Climate Change Research, said that the risks of landslides and subsidence, saltwater intrusion and extraction of groundwater resources were increasing sharply in this area. He pointed out that there was a lack of close research on these issues.

 

Tri added that subsidence had damaged infrastructure, increased the risk of flooding, threatened agricultural land and caused erosion in coastal areas, as well as changed the flow of river systems.

 

Prof Tom Kompier, a representative of Utrecht University, said that experts of both universities jointly carried out several studies to analyse the area's geological condition and gave specific solutions to limit the subsidence.

 

Several projects have been implemented, such as construction of roads, flood-control dikes, water supply units as well as wastewater treatment systems, Kompier added.

 

However, he warned that all these solutions are not feasible if the awareness of people is not raised.

 

People need to know that water is not an infinite resource, especially groundwater, and that it is necessary to use it in the right way, he added.

 

Kompier also said that uncontrolled exploitation of groundwater resources will lead to land subsidence, drought and poor harvests.

 

VNS/VNN
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