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Drought brings salty water

Update: April, 26/2014 - 12:00

It has been dry in the Cuu Long Mekong Delta area.

Fresh water has not been seeping into the soil the way it usually does.

As a result, the ground water has become more salty.

This has not been good for domestic use, such as cooking and drinking.

It has also not been good for farmers because rice does not like to grow in water that is too salty.

An agriculture officer examines a rice paddy in Tran De District in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang to look for damage caused to the crop by drought and saline instrusion.
An agriculture officer examines a rice paddy in Tran De District in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang to look for damage caused to the crop by drought and saline instrusion. -  VNA/VNS Photo Trung Hieu

HCM CITY (VNS) — More than 377,000 people in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta face a fresh water shortage because of saline water intrusion in the area, according to the National Centre for Rural Clean Water Supply and Environmental Sanitation.

The price for fresh clean water has soared as a result. In Kien Giang, Ben Tre and Ca Mau provinces, people have been buying clean water for VND25,000-60,000 (US$1.2-$2.9) a cubic metre, far higher than the normal price of VND7,000-10,000.

Vo Thi Thong, 47, from Hon Dat District's Binh Son Commune in Kien Giang said the bore wells of hundreds of households had been affected by saline intrusion and acidic soil.

To have water for cooking and drinking, people here have to travel about 10km to the commune's centre to buy clean water, she said.

Saline water intrusion and drought in the delta has affected agricultural production, with salt water concentration increasing to 0.9 per cent in several areas in Hau Giang Province, Nguyen Van Dong, director of the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said.

In Ben Tre, Tra Vinh, Ca Mau and Bac Lieu provinces, the water is more saline than last year, officials said.

In Ca Mau Province, the salt concentration reached 3 per cent. Rice will die when the salt concentration in fields becomes higher than 3 per cent.

About 100,000ha of farmland in the delta have been affected by saline water intrusion, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

This intrusion occurred one month earlier than in the past, and entered 40-50 km deep into river mouths.

In some areas in Soc Trang, Tra Vinh, Ben Tre, Tien Giang and Long An provinces, saline water has intruded 50-60km into rivers.

Since early February, strong winds combined with drought have created favourable conditions for deeper saline water instrusion.

Steps have been taken to provide fresh water to farms.

Hau Giang and Vinh Long provinces have dredged and upgraded dozens of canals to supply irrigation water for 38,000ha of rice and fruit fields in affected areas.

Tien Giang Province has built 173 temporary dams to prevent saline water intrusion and has set up 173 sites to pump water into fields.

And Kien Giang Province has closed sluice gates along sea at Rach Gia - Ba Hon areas to keep fresh water.

Nguyen Huynh Trung, deputy head of the Kien Giang Irrigation Sub-department, said the water levels of rivers would decline as there would be little rain during the dry season.

"Saline water intrusion will likely continue to enter deeper inland with a higher concentration of salt," he said. — VNS

GLOSSARY

More than 377,000 people in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta face a fresh water shortage because of saline water intrusion in the area, according to the National Centre for Rural Clean Water Supply and Environmental Sanitation.

Saline means containing salt.

In this case, an intrusion is happening because the salt water is not welcome in the place where the fresh water is.

The price for fresh clean water has soared as a result.

When the price of something soars it goes up and becomes very expensive.

Vo Thi Thong, 47, from Hon Dat District's Binh Son Commune in Kien Giang said the bore wells of hundreds of households had been affected by saline intrusion and acidic soil.

Bore wells are wells that are often in people's gardens and tap underground water.

Acidic means having the properties of acid. Scientifically speaking, this is with a pH below 7.

Saline water intrusion and drought in the delta has affected agricultural production, with salt water concentration increasing to 0.9 per cent in several areas in Hau Giang Province, Nguyen Van Dong, director of the province's Department of Agriculture and Rural Development said.

A drought happens when there is no rain for a long time and it becomes very dry.

A delta is a river mouth where the river divides into many channels running to the sea.

In Ca Mau Province, the salt concentration reached 3 per cent.

If there is a concentration of salt, there is a lot of salt in the water.

Hau Giang and Vinh Long provinces have dredged and upgraded dozens of canals to supply irrigation water for 38,000ha of rice and fruit fields in affected areas.

To dredge a canal means to scoop out sand, muds and anything else that may be blocking it.

Tien Giang Province has built 173 temporary dams to prevent saline water intrusion and has set up 173 sites to pump water into fields.

Temporary dams are dams that are intended to exist only for a while, not permanently.

And Kien Giang Province has closed sluice gates along sea at Rach Gia - Ba Hon areas to keep fresh water.

Sluice gates are special gates that can be opened to let water out of a dam, or kept closed to keep the water in the dam.

WORKSHEET

State whether the following sentences are true, or false:

1.      One hundred and seventy-three permanent dams have been built in Tien Giang province.

2.      The Cuu Long, or Mekong, Delta of Viet Nam covers more than one province.

3.      Canals are being improved to bring fresh water to farms.

4.      Nguyen Van Dong works at the National Centre for Rural Clean Water Supply and Environmental Sanitation.

5.      There is more salt in the water in Tra Vinh province this year than there was last year.

 

ANSWERS:

© Duncan Guy/Learn the News/ Viet Nam News 2014























 1. False; 2. True; 3. True; 4. False; 5. True.

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