Experts suggest urgent solutions deployment for protection of Mekong Delta

Given the Mekong Delta's crucial role in food supply and national economic development, experts and leaders from various ministries and localities emphasize the need for urgent measures to protect the region, in line with Government Resolution 120.

Drought has caused the canals and ditches in the freshwater conversion area of Tran Van Thoi District (Ca Mau Province) to dry up.

SGGP Newspaper respectfully presents a range of opinions on this matter.

Prof.-Dr. DAO XUAN HOC, Former Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Chairman of the Vietnam Water Resources Association, and Advisor to Government Irrigation Projects: Building dams for the Mekong Delta

Prof.-Dr. Dao Xuan Hoc

With an average annual water flow of over 400 billion cubic meters in the Mekong Delta, effective management can prevent water shortages. Vietnam should devise strategies to retain this water to support irrigation and aquaculture, preventing waste. In his opinion, the solution is to construct dams (sluice gates) or reservoirs to store fresh water for the Mekong Delta.

Regarding this matter, around 2010-2011, during the planning phase for the Mekong Delta in light of climate change, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development once considered the construction of dams or sluice gates at most river mouths in the Mekong Delta (except for the Hau River, which was proposed but not deemed immediately necessary due to its significant impact on transportation and boat traffic).

However, at that time, the issue was not as pressing as it is now, and there were various dissenting opinions, leading to the exclusion of this proposal from the planning. However, given the current severity of natural disasters and climate change, especially the escalating droughts and saltwater intrusion, in the long term, it is imperative to invest and build such infrastructure, as there are no feasible alternatives.

Mr. NGUYEN HOANG HIEP, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development: Planning review planned

Mr. Nguyen Hoang Hiep

Government Resolution No. 120 on Sustainable Development of the Mekong Delta in Response to Climate Change suggests that solutions for disaster and climate change adaptation must align with nature. While droughts and saltwater intrusion have become more frequent in recent years, they are also natural occurrences. Therefore, we must respond and adapt calmly and in a controlled manner while remaining flexible during the transition.

In the upcoming time, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will reassess the overall planning of the Mekong Delta region, pinpointing areas lacking freshwater, suitable for shrimp farming, designated for fruit tree cultivation, and unsuitable for rice cultivation. This production planning will determine how to adapt to drought and salinity.

The most crucial aspect is that localities must strictly adhere to production planning. Crucially, strict adherence to the production planning by local authorities is paramount, and designated areas for shrimp farming or rice cultivation must be rigorously followed. It is imperative to unify the perspective that freshwater, saltwater, or brackish water are all resources for adaptation.

The subsidence incident occurrs at the Ben Thuy warehouse of Hung Phuoc Food Joint Stock Company, Co Do District, Can Tho City in mid-April 2024.

Mr. NGUYEN MINH CANH, Vice Chairman of the Ben Tre Provincial People's Committee: Decreased Mekong River water leads to deeper salinity intrusion

Mr. Nguyen Minh Canh

The Mekong Delta's freshwater supply for both agriculture and daily life significantly relies on the Mekong River. In recent years, this vital water source has been gradually dwindling, evident from the absence of floods or extremely low flood levels. Additionally, Cambodia's plan to construct the Funam-Techo canal will further reduce water flow downstream in the Mekong River.

Consequently, not only will there be a shortage of freshwater for irrigation, but saltwater intrusion will also intensify. Given this reality, to effectively combat salinity intrusion and ensure agricultural production, it is essential to implement outer embankments. This entails investing in constructing irrigation canal systems such as the Cai Lon-Cai Be sluice. In Ben Tre Province, priority is currently given to the construction of the Ham Luong sluice. Although located within Ben Tre Province, this sluice serves not only Ben Tre but also neighboring provinces.

Mr. NGUYEN MINH LAM, Vice Chairman of the Long An Provincial People's Committee: Building additional and reopening reserve wells

Mr. Nguyen Minh Lam

To tackle the shortage of clean water, especially in water-deficient areas like the lower regions of Long An Province, the Provincial People's Committee has directed the Nhi Thanh Water Plant to reduce water supply durations in Tan An City and Thu Thua District and reallocate water to Can Giuoc District. The province is also planning to construct additional wells and reopen reserve ones to ensure a steady water supply for residents in the district.

Furthermore, it has urged the Southern Irrigation Management One Member Limited Company to release water from the Dau Tieng Reservoir into the Vam Co Dong River to control saltwater intrusion and guarantee freshwater supply for operating pumping stations and irrigation channels. In the long term, Long An Province focuses on enhancing its irrigation infrastructure, with plans to invest in 33 irrigation projects totaling VND157 billion.

Mr. NGUYEN VAN VINH, Chairman of the Tien Giang Provincial People's Committee: Proposal for central financial support

Mr. Nguyen Van Vinh

In response to drought and saltwater intrusion during the dry season, the Tien Giang Provincial People's Committee has declared an emergency regarding saltwater intrusion and freshwater shortages in the region. The province has requested central government assistance in constructing the Tra Tan and Ba Rai sluices to enclose the expanded Bao Dinh project area to safeguard 130,000 hectares of agricultural land for Tien Giang and Long An provinces, including 70,000 hectares of economically valuable fruit orchards in Tien Giang.

Additionally, the province seeks central support to upgrade and expand the Phu Thanh reservoir by 10 hectares and the Tan Thoi reservoir by 6 hectares, with a budget of VND160 billion, to serve residents of Tan Phu Dong District. Furthermore, there is a proposal to upgrade and enlarge the Gia Thuan reservoir by 10 hectares, the Binh Thanh reservoir by 30 hectares, and the Go Gua reservoir by 15 hectares, with an estimated budget of VND300 billion, to ensure water availability for agricultural production and daily life in the region.

Subsidence and road erosion in U Minh Thuong District, Kien Giang Province

The planning for natural disaster prevention and irrigation in the Mekong Delta region from 2021 to 2030, with a vision towards 2050:

- Upgrading and enhancing major irrigation systems: Nhat Tao - Tan Tru, Bao Dinh, Go Cong, Bac Ben Tre, Nam Ben Tre, Nam Mang Thit, Quan Lo - Phung Hiep, and O Mon - Xa No.

- Interconnecting and transferring water between irrigation systems (Bao Dinh - Go Cong - Tan Tru) to bolster water storage capacity, internal and inter-regional water transfer, and proactive water regulation to cater to agricultural, industrial, and domestic needs.

- Investing in and building water source control projects at Vam Co and Ham Luong estuaries, continuing researching water source control projects for the remaining estuaries; and investing in distributed freshwater storage reservoirs to proactively address drought, water scarcity, and saltwater intrusion.

- Dredging major canals and channels in the Dong Thap Muoi and Long Xuyen Quadrangle regions to facilitate water storage for domestic and production purposes during the dry season, and flood drainage during the rainy season.

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