This year’s dry season will see more extremes with seawater penetrating around 42,000 hectares of summer-autumn rice crops, said Chief of the Water Regulation Department of Bac Lieu Province Nguyen Van Minh.
|A pump takes water from a depleted canal to replenish a rice field in Bac Lieu Province, December 2009. The Mekong Delta could face a severe drought in 2010. (Photo: Lao Dong)|
Climate changes together with increasing exploitation of water in the Mekong Delta’s upper reaches have lessened freshwater running to lower sections of the Delta.
Conditions become worse during dry seasons and farmers regularly experience seawater floods that submerge many parts of 53 communes.
In recent years, seawater has been penetrating further inland, sometimes encroaching 60-70 kilometers into the mainland and causing damage to many rice-growing areas in the Delta.
In the first few months of 2009, Bac Lieu Province saw little rain with temperatures hovering around 34-35 degrees Celsius. This led to a shortage of freshwater in some communes of Phuoc Long and Gia Rai districts.
Between March and April 2009, there were fives instances where seawater encroached into Bac Lieu and Soc Trang provinces.
At some agricultural production areas in Bac Lieu, the salinity was up from 15 to 28‰. Around 1,200 hectares of rice in Gia Rai and Phuoc Long districts died due to seawater penetration in 2009.
Also during last year’s dry season, Soc Trang Province saw a freshwater shortage and seawater penetration affecting over 40,000 hectares of summer-spring rice crops.