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Hòa Bình dam sounds drought warnings as water level hits record low

Update: December, 17/2019 - 16:22
Hoà Bình hydropower dam reports the lowest water level since it started operations. — VNA/VNS Photo Trọng Đạt

HÀ NỘI — Hòa Bình hydropower dam, the largest in Việt Nam and second in Southeast Asia, has posted its lowest water level since operations started, triggering fears of drought and electricity shortages.

According to a report from the Hòa Bình Hydropower Company, by Monday afternoon, the dam’s water level dropped to 101.14m, or 16m lower than the normal working level of 117m.

For more than a month now, the water level at the dam has not exceeded 103m.

The total volume of water that the dam currently holds is three billion cu.m lower than the normal level.

The total amount of water feeding into Hòa Bình reservoir, located on Đà River, during the rainy season this year (lasting from June to September) reached 14.7 billion cu.m, less than half of previous years’ averages and the lowest since the hydropower plant officially went into operation in 1994, according to Nguyễn Đình Thuỷ from the technical safety department of the Hòa Bình Hydropower Company.

The expected inflows at the end of the flooding season were also disappointing, so there is a high chance of prolonged drought or water shortages, especially when the hydropower dam must hold in water in order to ensure irrigation demands for the winter-spring crops in early 2020 while generating enough electricity and maintaining a reasonable flow of water for use in downstream regions.

The Hòa Bình dam also depends a great deal on the Sơn La dam, also one of the country’s major hydropower projects situated about 200km to the north in the northern mountainous province of Sơn La.

To raise the water level in the Hòa Bình dam, Sơn La will need to discharge a significant amount of water, but that’s looking unlikely as the Sơn La dam itself is also dealing with unusual acridity, Hòa Bình company’s official said, a struggle most major hydropower reservoirs in the country share.

Given the role of the 1,920MW of the Hòa Bình hydropower plant in the national electricity supply, the State-owned Việt Nam Electricity is asking the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment to allow the four major hydropower dams – Hòa Bình, Sơn La, Thác Bà and Tuyên Quang – to prioritise power generation and limit the discharge of water downstream. — VNS

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