|The Bến Rớ Sluice to prevent saltwater intrusion and store freshwater for agricultural production and household use is being built in Bến Tre Province’s Châu Thành District. – VNA/VNS Photo Công Trí|
BẾN TRE – Saltwater intrusion in rivers is rapidly increasing in Bến Tre Province and affecting agriculture and the lives of locals.
It is one of the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta provinces hardest hit by saltwater intrusion in the dry season between December and April every year.
Many speciality fruit growing areas in Châu Thành District face a severe shortage of water because the Hàm Luông, one of Bến Tre’s major rivers, has been affected by saltwater.
A salinity rate of four grammes per litre is estimated 50-60 km upriver from now until the end of this month, according to the National Centre for Hydro-Meteorology Forecasting.
Most plants can only tolerate a rate of one gramme.
In Châu Thành’s Tiên Long Commune, many durian and rambutan orchards now have no irrigation water.
Văn Công Tư, who has a 0.6ha durian orchard there, said his trees are flowering and so need to be irrigated regularly.
Until recently he drew water from a canal near his orchard, but it too has been affected by saltwater intrusion from a month ago, he said.
Water he had stored in a pond in his orchard has been used up, he said.
If the salinity does not reduce within a week, his durian trees would not survive, he said.
Farmers in affected areas are taking various measures to save their orchards, including buying water from other places.
Huỳnh Quang Đức, deputy director of the province Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said farmers should proactively check the water salinity rate and draw and store in their ponds when the rate reduces.
He also suggested not stimulating durian trees to flower this month.
Saltwater intrusion has occurred earlier than usual this year, according to the province Centre for Hydro-Meteorology Forecast.
The province has taken a number of measures like building saltwater prevention works.
It regularly measures the salinity of rivers and canals and informs farmers and instructs them in how to cope with the saltwater intrusion.
It opens and closes sluices to prevent saltwater intrusion.
It has stepped up the construction of saltwater prevention works such as the Bến Rớ Sluice in Tiên Long Commune.
Construction of the sluice is expected to be completed next month, and it will keep out saltwater from the upstream areas of the Ba Lai River in Châu Thành District, which irrigates thousands of hectares of fruits.
It will also help supply freshwater to the Cái Cỏ Raw Water Pumping Station, which has a capacity of 47,000 cu.m a day and serves dozens of thousands of households.
The province provides freshwater to households in saltwater affected areas. – VNS