Châu Trần Vĩnh. — Photo nhandan.com.vn
Châu Trần Vĩnh, deputy director of the Water Resources Management Department, under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, talks to Nhân Dân newspaper about the need to adopt a flexible plan to cope with the severe droughts in the Mekong Delta
What measures has the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment adopted to reduce the negative impacts on farming activities in the Mekong Delta?
The Mekong Delta has recently been seriously hit by severe drought. Yet, thanks to the good weather forecast and good instructions from the government, in many localities the damage was less severe than in 2016. During the dry season, many reservoirs, particularly big reservoirs in the regions were only able to store just about 40-75 per cent of their capacity to serve agriculture production. From last December, the Tây Nguyên Water Resource Management Agency has worked closely with all localities and lake owners to discuss plans to discharge water to the lower basins to help farmers do their agriculture production in the dry season. They even discussed a contingency plan on how best to deal with the severe water shortage situation. Though the water volume discharged to all the reservoirs was limited, management boards were able to maintain a minimum water level stored in their reservoirs for the remaining five to seven months of the dry season.
Due to the severe shortage of the surface water, authorities in some localities allowed people to extract under-ground water for their daily use and for production. Don’t you think such activities may lead to land subsidence and salt water intrusion?
With lessons learned from the year 2015-2016, we have adopted pro-active plans to respond to this dry season. According to the weather forecast this season will be more severe than in 2015-2016. Some localities have already developed their plans to extract underground water for the daily use and production. However, we have discussed with the people on how best to rationalise the use of the underground water to avoid land subsidence or salt water intrusion. In the meantime, we have also discussed with the local people about the construction of the Ngã Bảy Water Plant which will use both the surface water and the underground water as its input water resource.
What should the people in the Mekong Delta do to have a sustainable water supply in the context of climate change?
We can’t negate that our water resource has been heavily affected by climate change. As a result, it will affect the people’s livelihood, the national economy and the environment. We should take pro-active measures, including the development of a master plan on the national use of water resources in all big river basins, particularly in the Red River and the Mekong River. In the meantime, we have to increase our surveillance activities on water extraction and water usage in both domestic and production usage.
We should also step up surveillance activities on all reservoirs on the 11 major rivers that have been instructed by the Prime Minister and we should launch a campaign to tell the general public to use water rationally.
One of the measures to control and manage the water resources is to invest in observation stations. At present, Việt Nam has built and operates 27 surface water observation stations and 52 underground water observation stations.
Finally the National Council on Water Resources should be a focal point for water usage and management in Việt Nam._VNS