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Drought, saltwater dry up Mekong Delta’s largest reservoir

The Kenh Lap Reservoir in Ben Tre Province, the largest in the Mekong Delta, is drying up due to drought and saltwater intrusion, leaving thousands of households facing a water shortage.  

The Kenh Lap Reservoir in Ben Tre Province

 

The reservoir in Ba Tri District is nearly 5km long and 40 -100m wide. It used to be a canal running into the Ba Lai River, and was converted into a reservoir last year.

It has a capacity of more than 800,000cu.m and supplies water to 200,000 people in the district.  

Trần Văn Thanh of Ba Tri’s Phước Ngãi Commune said after the reservoir was built he did not have to buy freshwater for feeding cows and household use at the beginning of the ongoing dry season last year.

But the reservoir is drying up and he cannot draw water from it any longer, he said.

He now has to buy water or get it from free water supply sites in the commune, he said.  

Hồ Văn Thương, deputy head of the district’s Bureau of Agriculture and Rural Development, said because of prolonged drought and saltwater intrusion since the end of last year, all the water in the reservoir has been drawn and it has little left.

It has not received water since January 10 because the 9A Canal, which supplies it water, was affected by saltwater intrusion.

Ba Tri has more than 11,000 households facing a water shortage because all 12 water supply plants and pumping stations in the district have been affected by saltwater intrusion, according to its People’s Committee. 

The committee has called on donations of water, containers and purifiers to help local people overcome the crippling shortage.  

Donors have provided thousands of cubic metres of freshwater and more than 5,000 containers, funded drilling of more than 100 wells and installed 66 purifiers for filtering saltwater in public places to provide free water to locals.  

Bến Tre is one of the delta’s coastal provinces facing severe saltwater intrusion.

It is expected to last until May, according to the province’s Centre for Hydro-Meteorology Forecasting. 

Ninh Thuan: farming stopped on 15,000 ha due to drought

The south-central province of Ninh Thuan has to stop farming on over 15,000 ha of land in this year’s summer-autumn crop due to a serious shortage of water.

During the 2019-20 winter-spring rice crop, farming had to be stopped on nearly 8,000ha because of lack of water.

Luu Xuâan Vinh, chairman of the province People’s Committee, said there has been seven years of drought in the last 10 years.

In many places, farmers have had to stop farming for a long time because of drought, he said.

To mitigate the effects of drought, the People’s Committee has ordered localities to identify clearly and zone areas for crops and animal husbandry.

Priority will be given to high-value crops that require less water, the People’s Committee said.

The country’s driest province has 21 reservoirs with a combined capacity of 194 million cubic metres of water, but they only contained nearly 30 million cu.m of water now, with some running dry.

To mitigate the effects of drought, the People’s Committee has ordered localities to identify clearly and zone areas for crops and animal husbandry.

Priority will be given to high-value crops that require less water, the People’s Committee said.

The province plans to develop 12 hi-tech vegetable growing areas on a total of 1,640ha, four hi-tech grape and jujube growing areas on 700ha, two hi-tech cow breeding areas on 150ha and two hi-tech goat and sheep breeding areas on 250ha by the end of this year, according to the department. 

The province will develop three hi-tech aquaculture areas.

In the last three years, Ninh Thuan has spent more than 2.3 trillion VND (98 million USD) to upgrade 63 irrigation works, increasing the total irrigated area to 53.7 percent, up 4.1 percentage points from 2015.

Besides switching to other crops on rice fields, the province also plans to switch to two rice crops a year from three to save water./.VNA/VNN/VNS

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