Vietnam/ The Mekong Delta deploys solutions to drought and salinization

Published on 21/05/2024 | La rédaction

Viet Nam

The Mekong Delta is facing the most severe drought and salinity in the 2023-2024 dry season. Local authorities are currently engaged in a number of solutions to proactively adapt to these climatic phenomena.

In recent months, the Mekong Delta has seen a significant increase in salinization, jeopardizing agricultural production, drinking water supplies and the livelihoods of local people, as well as their quality of life.

The Soc Trang Water Company currently has 24 supply stations with a total authorized capacity of almost 98,000m3 day and night. However, due to drought and salinization, it is still struggling to supply water for the daily needs of the local population.

The company currently manages over 60 wells, including 50 shallow and over 10 deep, as well as two surface water treatment plants to supply drinking water. In the long term, Soc Trang will be faced with the challenge of water salinization, not only on the surface but also in groundwater, revealed Dang Van Ngô, its General Manager.

Faced with this growing threat, the company has decided to build a surface water treatment plant, covering an area of 110 ha in Hô Dac Kiên commune, with a production capacity of 200,000m3 per day and night. In addition, the Cai Lon - Cai Be irrigation project is currently under construction. Once operational, it will help regulate water flow and prevent salinization throughout the region.

"Rather than simply opting to build a bridge, we decided to build a canal in association with it. This initiative will enable us to regulate water flow, retain water during the rainy season for later use in the dry season, and reduce dependence on upstream water sources."

In recent years, residents of coastal localities in the Mekong Delta have taken measures such as storing water for daily use and adopting alternative farming practices such as alternating rice and shrimp cultivation to adapt to salinization.

According to Associate Professor Lê Anh Tuân, scientific advisor at Cân Tho University's Climate Change Research Institute, a major wave of drought and salinization is on the horizon.According to Associate Professor Lê Anh Tuân, Scientific Advisor at Cân Tho University's Climate Change Research Institute, a major wave of drought and salinization is expected, in line with a four-year cycle, meaning that this year will face a major risk following the waves recorded in 2016 and 2020. According to his estimates, it is imperative to strengthen salinization prevention measures.

"Despite the effectiveness of structures to combat saline intrusion, additional freshwater inflows are proving insufficient. As a result, the soil contracts, the pressure is no longer balanced, making the land vulnerable to subsidence. Sometimes, our desire to repel salt water while preserving fresh water leads to unforeseen consequences and significant damage. Once the ground begins to subside, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, to restore it. That'swhy it's imperative to choose effective, sustainable solutions to prevent salinization", he stressed.

By 2020, there were around 18,000 household water wells in the Mekong Delta. In addition, the State has built water treatment plants to supply water to urban areas, industries and 30% of rural and coastal residents.

Trân Anh Tuân, vice-president of the Vietnamese Water Supply Association, proposes that the Mekong Delta should assess water resources for industrial, domestic and agricultural needs, and then develop an interconnected water supply system. This system should be designed to meet a variety of objectives in the areas north of the Tiên River and in the central region.

Recently, the World Bank approved a project to build five water treatment plants in three regions of the Mekong Delta, including north of the Tiên River, in the central region and southwest of the Hâu River.

"We need to consider supplying raw water to the treatment plants, as the water must be unsalted. Since surface water has become salty, we need to invest in water pipelines to capture water upstream from the Tiên rivers.water upstream of the Tiên and Hâu rivers, to convey it to these plants before distributing it to the population", he proposed.

In the future, the Mekong Delta will be home to at least seven to eight million people in urban areas. It is therefore imperative to set up a freshwater retention system and inter-regional water supply projects to guarantee the daily needs of the inhabitants and the production of local businesses.


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