Experts call for water storage for Mekong Delta

VietNamNet Bridge – Environmentalists have underscored the importance of finding ways to store and share water resources in the Mekong Delta as climate change is inflicting huge damage on the arable delta.


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A fisherman in the Mekong Delta prepares a net to catch fish in the flooding season. Environmentalists have underscored the importance of finding ways to store and share water resources in the Mekong Delta. 

At a seminar in Can Tho City on January 10, they agreed this was a measure to cushion impacts of drought and saltwater intrusion on the delta, the nation’s key rice producing area.

Le Anh Tuan, deputy director of the Institute for Climate Change Research at Can Tho University, told the Daily on the sidelines of the seminar on water storage for the delta that as many provinces in the delta have been racing to increase rice crops and build dykes to store water for the third rice crop of a year for food security. However, this has led to soil for rice production being degraded in the region.

Tuan urged local authorities to adopt new farming approaches since soil in the delta has become less fertile than before, climate change has taken a toll on farmers and water resources have been depleted by more hydropower damming in the upper reaches of the Mekong River. Therefore, water storage is crucial for the region to cope with drought and salination and localities should find ways to make the most of annual floods and consider them a great natural resource rather than a disaster.

Environmentalist Nguyen Huu Thien said the acreage for the third rice crop of year in the Mekong Delta in 2012 shot up 7-fold to 470,000 hectares compared to 2001. The current acreage of the third crop in the delta is 800,000 hectares, according to data of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Hydropower dams, especially those in the upper reaches of the Mekong River, have exacted a heavy toll on the Mekong Delta and taken away the great benefits of annual flooding, Thien said.

Intensive rice farming has not helped farmers escape poverty as hoped, Thien said. He stressed bold steps should be taken to restore natural water reservoirs like Tu Giac Long Xuyen (Long Xuyen Quadrangle) and Dong Thap Muoi (Plain of Reeds) to mitigate the effect of drought and saltwater intrusion in the coming years.

There are multiple ways to store water for the delta, Tuan said, emphasizing the important role of the Mekong River Commission in working with other countries along the river over a plan to distribute water from the river.

Tuan called for an immediate stop to new dykes and a removal of dykes around the areas where rice production is no longer profitable. It is important to restore underground water resources, which have been overexploited over the years.

Tuan suggested creating new livelihoods for people living in flooded areas in the Mekong Delta such as raising fish in Tram Chim area in Dong Thap Province and Lang Sen in Long An Province to support them to improve their living standards.

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SGT

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