Saline encroachment hits Mekong waters

VietNamNet Bridge – Salination has appeared earlier than usual this year in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta and is also expected to go farther inland than last year.

llustrative image. (Photo: Internet)

Nguyen Minh Giam, deputy director of the Southern Hydro-meteorology Station, said salination had gone 40km inland in some areas of Tra Vinh Province.

He said this was an abnormal phenomenon. "Normally, salination first appears in February and is of low intensity then," he explained.

Samples taken at several inspection spots on delta rivers including Dai Ngai, Tran De and Thanh Thoi Thuan showed high content of salt that went inland from the estuaries by 20km to 40km.

Giam said low volume of water from upper reaches and high tides have contributed to the early appearance of salination.

He advised residents to preserve fresh water.

Agriculture officials and farmers should closely monitor the timing of low tides to water their paddy fields, he added.

Rice is critically vulnerable to salt water, even of very low content, and the agriculture sector should tackle the situation urgently, he said.

Ca Mau faces threat

The entire western coastal area, including Phu Tan, U Minh and Tran Van Thoi districts in southernmost Ca Mau Province, is suffering from serious saltwater intrusion.

The western coastal area is 97 kilometres long.

Research jointly implemented by the provincial departments of agriculture and rural development together with natural resources and environment last month showed that saltwater intrusion has worsened this dry season due to high tides.
In some places, saltwater penetrated up to 3 kilometres into agricultural land.

Nguyen Van Su, director of the provincial Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said that the department had helped farmers dig canals along their fields to stem the inflow of saltwater.

However, he said, this was only a temporary measure. The western coastal area played an important role in the provincial economy and defence, so it was vital to reinforce the dyke system to keep out saltwater.

Ca Mau Province invested VND60 billion (US$2.8 million) to build a 100-km dyke to protect 100,000 hectares of agricultural land in 1990.

Since then, however, many parts of the dyke have broken, causing saltwater to intrude into cultivated land. Each year, the province invests billions of dong to upgrade the dyke, but these measures are yet to prove effective.

November figures from the provincial Department of Natural Resources and Environment showed the water intrusion was threatening more than 400 hectares of cultivated land.

Around 120 hectares of coastal land were eroded annually. Meanwhile, eight seaports and dozens of estuaries were at risk of landslides, threatening 3,600 households nearby.

To protect the sea dyke system, the preservation of mangrove forest should receive extra focus, especially when the climate change and sea water rise intensify and become more complicated, the department said.

However, the deforestation of mangrove forest still occurs in Ca Mau Cape National Park and protective forest areas.

Nguyen Tan Phong, who has lived near the mangrove forest in Ngoc Hien District's Vien An Dong Commune for 60 years, said the forest once seemed to be interminable and endless, but it has been now scattered with several clumps.

Last year, the provincial forest management sub-department found 393 cases of violations, an increase of 103 cases on the previous year. But the department warned that the true figure will be much higher.

According to experts, more supportive policies and regulations should be issued so locals are enticed to join the protection of mangrove forest.

Source: VNS

Mekong waters, Ca Mau, saline, mangrove forest