Hydropower plant operators say they don’t cause floods

The operators of some hydropower plants in Vietnam have denied the opinion that hydropower plants are the main culprit of recent floods in the central region, claiming that water discharged from reservoirs of the plants do not cause floods.

Water discharged from the reservoir of Ba Ha River Hydropower Plant in the central province of Phu Yen (Photo: SGGP)

They made the statement at a seminar held on November 13 by the Ministry of Industry and Trade to discuss the operation of hydropower reservoirs.

The main points discussed during the seminar included whether hydropower plants help to reduce floods or cause floods, and whether Ba Ha river and A Vuong hydropower plants caused heavy floods in the central region when water was discharged from the plants in November 2010 and October 2009 respectively while floods were hitting the region.

Bui Minh Tang, director of the National Hydro Meteorological Forecasting Center, said it is not accurate when people have claimed that the flood water discharge at A Vuong and other hydropower plants caused the heavy floods. Because the floods were very severe in the region in 1999 and 2003 when there were not any hydropower plants there.

There should be a comprehensive and objective calculation of the discharges before giving a conclusion, he added.

Doan Tien Cuong, deputy director of Yaly Hydropower Plant, said plants were designed to have a function of stopping floods. But in recent years, there have been erratic changes in time and degree of foods and rain, causing difficulties for plants in regulating floods and preventing water flow.

The Phu Yen Province People’s Committee said that the flood discharge at Ba Ha river hydropower plant in early this month was not in accordance with the regulated process, impacting evacuation of flood-affected residents.

Vo Van Tri, general director of Ba Ha River Hydropower Company, objected to the committee’s conclusion, saying that his company had informed central and local flood and storm prevention and control committees of the discharge.

However, he said due to administrative mistakes, the company failed to inform the committee at the first stage.
An official from the ministry said an investigation made on the water discharge at the Ba Ha plant proved that the discharge was technically proper.

Dao Tan Cam, director of Phu Yen Province’s Department of Industry and Trade, said previously when there was only Hinh river hydropower plant, the province was hit by floods frequently.

The committee shouldn’t blame only the Ba Ha river plant for the floods, he added.

Mr. Cam said the Ba Ha river plant has a flood-prevention capacity of 300 million cubic meters, while the floodwater level went up to 9.3 billion cubic meters in 2009. Therefore it was necessary to discharge water to protect the dam.

The floods in 2009 killed about 80 people, but through the department’s statistics, none of them lived in lowland areas, he added.

Nguyen Tram, general director of A Vuong Hydropower Plant, said the whole process of operation and water discharge of the plant was proper too.

He said people attributed the cause of heavy floods in 2009 in Quang Nam Province to the flood water discharge at the plant. Therefore, the plant organized seminars at 18 worst-hit communes in the province to present the plant’s operation.

The communes’ residents admitted that the plant was operated properly and it has helped to prevent floods in lower areas, he added.

Cao Anh Dung, deputy head of the ministry’s Safety Techniques and Industrial Environment Agency, said big hydropower plants have been operated properly in terms of keeping and discharging water.

However, some plants have yet to have plans to ensure the safety of local people during flood discharges, he added.

By N. Quang – Translated by Hoang Yen

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