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Ben Tre left thirsty after saline intrusion

Update: March, 14/2014 - 09:00
In recent years, climate change has led to the slow infiltration of salt water from the East Sea into Ben Tre Province.— File Photo

BEN TRE (VNS)— Massive underground salt-water intrusion has forced thousands of households in coastal areas of southern Ben Tre Province to buy fresh water for daily use.

Nguyen Ngoc Tuan, a resident in Thanh Phu Province's Thanh Hai Commune, said his family had to buy water during the dry season as salt intrusion had made well water unusable.

"We dug a well down 70 metres, but the water was still impure," he said. "We now have to buy about 200 litres of water a day".

Mai Thi Hong Ngoc, a resident in Binh Dai District's Dai Hoa Loc Commune, said her family bought water from the local waterworks for VND4,800 a cubic metre. However, supplies were only available three days a week.

"I usually buy water in tankers from local people who cart it in from wells containing pure water at a cost of VND80,000 ($3.80) a load," she said.

As many as 17 existing water treatment plants in three districts are able to produce up to 330 cubic metres of fresh water an hour, enough for about 30,000 households, or only 40 per cent of the population.

The remaining 60 per cent are using well water instead. And for those who live in salt-intrusion contaminated areas, they are paying for fresh water to be carted in at high cost.

Bui Thi Cuoi, owner of a clean well in Thanh Phu District's Thanh Hai Commune, said salt water intrusion lasted from December to May. During this time, she was able to sell between 60,000 and 10,000 litres a day.

In recent years, climate change has led to the slow infiltration of salt water from the East Sea into Ben Tre Province.

Pham Trung Tinh, deputy director of the provincial Centre for Clean Water and Rural Sanitation, said it was necessary to invest in building a system of sluices to prevent salt water from running into a reservoir in Ba Lai River in the province that supplies residents in three coastal districts. — VNS

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