Mekong Delta to have five water plants to cope with drought

Work will start on five water treatment plants in the Mekong Delta in 2018 to help the region cope with drought induced by climate change, which wreaked havoc the delta in this year’s dry season, said an official with the Ministry of Construction.

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Nguyen Hong Tien, head of the Technical Infrastructure Department at the ministry, said at an international seminar in HCMC on November 10 that in the wake of the devastating drought in the middle of this year, the Prime Minister has approved a master plan for water supply in the Mekong Delta to 2030.

The five water supply plants are expected to help residents in the country’s biggest rice growing area deal with drought and salinity intrusion, Tien told the seminar “Solutions for Sustainable Water Supply and Drainage against Climate Change and Water Resource Depletion.”

By 2025, the delta should have five more water plants with combined daily output of one million cubic meters, namely Song Tien 1 and 2, and Song Hau 1, 2 and 3. By 2030, these water plants will further increase their combined output by 650,000 cubic meters a day, he said.

Investment will also be made to build region-wide pipeline systems that are inter-connected to ensure sufficient water supply for urban centers as well as scattered residential areas in the region.

Currently, relevant agencies are conducting feasibility studies for the five water plants, which are expected to be complete next year so that construction work can start on these facilities in 2018.

Nguyen Van Nghia at the Water Resource Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, said at the seminar that the El Nino phenomenon led to lower rainfalls and weak water flows, prompting salinity intrusion to peak, especially in the Mekong Delta.

“In the 2014-2015 dry season, upstream water levels in most rivers were much lower than the average in the preceding years, and this situation recurred in the 2015-2016 dry season. Water flows in the Mekong River were also far below the average in the preceding years, causing critical salinity intrusion in the Mekong Delta,” he said.

Experts calculate that the Mekong Delta region requires as much as US$1.7 billion to ensure sufficient clean water supply. In the initial period, the World Bank has pledged to mobilize US$400 million while the Vietnamese Government will provide US$40 million in reciprocal capital.

The Mekong Delta has a population of 17.6 million. The total water supply volume now is 985,000 cubic meters a day, mainly sourced from the rivers of Tien and Hau and some one-third from underground water.

The region’s demand for clean water is estimated at 3.2 million cubic meters a day by 2030.

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