Vietnam needs master plan for water sources: expert
VietNamNet Bridge - The rainy season has begun and the serious drought in Mekong Delta is finally over. However, Vietnam will still face water shortages and saline intrusion in the long term. 

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Mekong Delta suffered the most serious drought in the last 90 years in March and April. The situation was so serious that the State had to ask China to discharge water from its reservoirs to let water go to the lower course. 

However, according to Vu Trong Hong, chair of the Vietnam Water Resources Association, there were only 200 million cubic meters of water, which went through three countries – Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia -- and all of which need water. Therefore, the volume of water reaching Vietnam was very modest.

State agencies, when talking about Vietnam’s water resources, always cite a report saying that Vietnam has 800 billion cubic meters of water, including 500 billion cubic meters from outside the territory and 300 billion cubic meters from the inland rivers.

However, an analyst commented that the figure, released in 1990-1992 by the then Ministry of Water Resources, has become out of date. No agency or institution conducted research in recent years to find out if the figure is accurate.

Vietnam has 800 billion cubic meters of water, including 500 billion cubic meters from outside the territory and 300 billion cubic meters from the inland rivers.

Hong agreed, noting that no one has come forward and calculated the error.  As the temperature is high in dry season, the evaporation level will also be high, estimated at 30 percent. As such, Vietnam would have 210 billion cubic meters of water for use, not 300 billion cubic meters as thought.

There is also no official figure about the volume of water at large lakes and rivers in Vietnam. However, Hong personally estimates that the figure is 40 billion cubic meters. Where is the other 170 cubic meters? The water is in rivers and it goes to the sea.

This means that to have water for use, Vietnam has to pump water from rivers, while this depends on the water level. It will not be able to use water when the water level declines.

“So, it is still unclear how much water of the 170 cubic meters of water we can use,” Hong concluded.

As such, the state still doesn’t have reliable figures about the water reserves localities can use so as to figure out the plans for socio-economic development.

El Nino and natural calamities have been cited to explain the drought and saline intrusion. 

However, Hong believes that the lack of water has been caused by the massive development and the deforestation which has led to a reduction in underground water.


Tia Sang


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