Persistent droughts, seawater intrusion plaguing Delta provinces

Mekong Delta provinces have been suffering severe droughts and seawater intrusion, causing a shortage of freshwater for local farmers.

A resident in Thanh Phuoc Commune, Binh Dai District, Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre must buy expensive fresh water because of a drought and seawater intrusion in Mekong Delta. (Photo:SGGP)

According to the Ben Tre Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting Center, seawater has now encroached 50 kilometers inland in Ben Tre Province through three rivers, the Cua Dai, Ham Luong and Co Chien.

The saltwater intrusion has seriously affected agricultural production and freshwater supplies for households in the area.

Thanh Thoi B Commune, Gia Hoa Commune and Ben Tre city’s Ward 7 are some of the worst-hit areas with saline levels wreaking havoc on the land.

Agriculture officials in Ben Tre Province have instructed farmers in coastal districts not to use river water to irrigate their crops during high tides because of the high salinity.

Salt water could encroach on more than 60km inland in Ben Tre during peak drought periods in April and May, the provincial Hydro-Meteorological Bureau has warned.

Ben Tre authorities are now implementing several measures to support farmers in protecting thousands of hectares of fruit to limit damage.

In Tien Giang Province, seawater has also penetrated into My Tho City, situated 50km from the sea.

All sluice gates have been closed in order to protect crops, however, thousands of hectares of winter-spring rice crops have still been negatively affected due to the water shortage.

Around 20,000 households in Tan Phu Dong and Go Cong Dong districts are also suffering freshwater shortages.

Tien Giang Irrigation Department has been working with local authorities and residents to access emergency freshwater supplies from 19 taps. The department will also bring water from My Tho City to supply farmers if the drought situation worsens.

In Kien Giang Province’s Phu Quoc National Forest, 37,000 hectares of forest are facing drought due to the recent hot, dry weather.

Meanwhile, 36,000 hectares of forest in Ca Mau Province are also suffering drought and facing a high risk of forest fires.

The same is true of Dong Thap and Tien Giang provinces with thousands of hectares of forest experiencing drought conditions.

According to forest management officials, 20 forest fires have occurred so far this year in the Mekong Delta provinces of An Giang, Ca Mau and Kien Giang, damaging 8,500 hectares of forest and grassland.

Scorching temperatures are forecast to remain until May, so Delta province people’s committees are asking forest management officials to strictly monitor saltwater intrusion and carefully research measures to prevent its impacts.

By H.Loi, translated by Cong Dung

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