Nation’s water security threat has reached alarming proportions

VietNamNet Bridge
27 April 2015

Severe, frequent droughts are seriously threatening water security, Truong Dinh Du, formerly with the Viet Nam Institute for Water Resources Development, tells Nong Thon Ngay Nay.

Droughts and saline intrusion have become more and more serious and complicated, affecting large areas in the central and southern regions during the past several years, particularly this year. Is this due to an abnormal weather situation?

Based on data that the IWRD had announced recently, severe drought and saline intrusion have become a serious natural issue that is threatening the whole Mekong (Cuu Long) Delta and the south-central region, with water flow deficiency in some areas pegged at as high as 80 to 90 per cent, which is the highest ever in history. This is a really strange weather situation.

Meanwhile, in the Red (Hong) River Delta, between 3 and 5 billion cubic metres of water are discharged annually from the Hoa Binh reservoir to support irrigation in the delta.

This clearly proves that national water security is being threatened at an alarming rate and is effecting not only the country’s socio-economic development, but also its political achievement.
During many environmental workshops held recently, scientists and environmentalists had raised water security as one of the most urgent issues that needs an immediate solution, which is focused on preserving and recovering the water flow.

Weather forecasts have warned that this year’s drought season would last until September. Warnings have also been given about the main cause being the impact of ENSO or the El Nino Southern Oscillation. Is this purely a consequence of natural climate change?

There are different causes for water deficiency in different areas. The causes obviously and commonly include not only an impact from natural climate change, but also an increase in human demand for water for production and daily life.

In the Tay Nguyen region, for example, the rapid development and expansion of coffee cultivation areas has surpassed 20 per cent over the planned target, while there is no target set for irrigation. Others agricultural and industrial sectors in the region are also suffering the same fate.

However, a more serious problem is the rapid decrease in forest cover, which has resulted in high evaporation rates and deficiency of water flows.

In the central provinces, where there are high slopes facilitating water flow, droughts come very quickly and right after the floods, while in the Cuu Long Delta, water reservoirs have been recognised as an effective solution for preventing drought.

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