"Hot economic development" leads to serious fresh water shortage

VietNamNet Bridge – Scientists, who repeatedly call on to “use fresh water in a smarter way,” affirmed that this would be feasible if the involved parties can find their benefits in the cooperation program.


Vietnam, river networ, Mekong Delta, climate change

How serious is Vietnam’s water shortage?

The information that thousands of hectares of rice fields turned yellow in the coastal areas of the Mekong Delta brought more heat to the workshop about water, held by the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment in Can Tho on March 20 which gathered a lot of scientists and ministries’ leaders.

Dr. Ngo Dinh Tuan from the South East Asia Institute for Water Resources and the Environment, said by 2010, the volume of surface water per capita in Vietnam had dropped to 3,850 cubic meters per annum.

The figure, which is lower than the threshold of 4,000 cubic meters per annum set by the international water resource association, has put Vietnam into the group of the countries which suffer the water shortage.

Dr. Bui Cong Quang from the Hanoi University of Water Resources said that the river valleys in the east of the southern region are in the danger of lacking water regularly.

On most of the river basin in the area, more than 75 percent of dry season water is exploited. As for the Ma river basin, the water exploitation rate is up to 80 percent. In Vietnam, 16 river basins have been listed as “average strained,” while three as “high strained,” including Ma, Huong and Dong Nai.

The water in Mekong Delta, where there is Mekong River, accounts for 61 percent of the total water output of the whole country. However, according to Dr. Le Anh Tuan from the Institute for Climate Change Studies of the Can Tho University, the water resources have been degrading in both quantity and quality.

Tuan has pointed out that the overly rapid and uncontrolled economic development has led to the pollution of the water sources. He has also attributed the water degradation to the damming in the river upper course, which has led to the lower volume of water for the lower course. This, plus the climate changes and the sea water rise, have made the fresh water shortage more serious.

Benefit harmonization will help

According to Trinh Van Dai from the Hai Phong City’s Department of Natural Resources and the Environment, a report showed that 225 wars have taken place so far due to the conflicts relating to the water resources.

In the period from 2000 to now, the conflicts relating to water resources account for 30.7 percent of the total conflicts. Asia is the land with the second biggest number of conflicts in the world, just to the Middle East.

The basin of the Mekong River, which goes across 6 countries, the living place for 60 million people, has become the “hot spot” in water resource security and social problems.

Dr. Dao Trong Tu, an advisor to the Vietnam River Network, said the nations living on the basin of the river, have had long lasting cooperation history. As for the four countries of Vietnam, Laos, Thailand and Cambodia, the cooperation began in 1957.

However, Tu said a lot of dams have been built on the upper course of the river, which has caused the nations’ benefit conflicts. He stressed that the governments of the nations sharing the Mekong Delta need to sit together to find out the most reasonable answers to the question. Only the close cooperation with the benefit harmonization of the involved parties would help settle the problem.

Tien Phong

Vietnam, river networ, Mekong Delta, climate change
 
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