|Bến Tre Province is speeding up work on irrigation projects to keep out saltwater during the upcoming dry season. — VNA/VNS Photo Công Trí|
BẾN TRE — The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Bến Tre will step up measures over the next five years to cope with saltwater intrusion in its rivers during the dry season, according to its People’s Committee.
The coastal province, one of the delta’s hardest hit by saltwater intrusion, is spending VNĐ8.4 trillion (US$362 million) to set up irrigation projects to prevent saltwater intrusion and store freshwater for agricultural production and household use in 2019-23.
In the first phase of the Northern Bến Tre Irrigation Project 45 saltwater prevention sluices and river bank embankment sections will be built along the Tiền and Hàm Luông rivers in the districts of Châu Thành, Giồng Trôm and Bình Đại and Bến Tre City this year.
The Kênh Cũ Sluice will be built in Bến Tre City and an embankment along the Hàm Luông River from the Cái Mít Sluice to the Cầu Kinh Sluice in Giồng Trôm District next year.
The Southern Bến Tre Irrigation Project will see 11 saltwater prevention sluices built next year.
In 2022-23, under the Bến Tre Water Management Project, the Tân Phú, Bến Rớ and An Hóa saltwater prevention sluices will be built in Châu Thành District, the Bến Tre sluice in Bến Tre City and others in the districts of Giồng Trôm, Mỏ Cày Nam and Mỏ Cày Bắc.
The province plans to build the Lạc Địa Reservoir in Ba Tri District to store 2.3 million cubic metres of freshwater at an estimated VNĐ352 billion ($15.2 million).
The People’s Committee has ordered proactive measures to prevent saltwater intrusion by building irrigation projects and through non-construction measures.
Nguyễn Hữu Lập, deputy chairman of the People’s Committee, said the province would continue to expand its ‘Đồng Khởi stores rainwater, freshwater’ movement launched in 2016.
The movement encourages households, organisations and companies to instal containers to store water in the dry season, he said.
Localities have speeded up dredging of irrigation canals and upgrades to water supply facilities to finish the work before the upcoming dry season.
The province has drawn up schedules for growing rice and other crops in each locality during the dry season to cope with saltwater intrusion which has become more and more severe in recent years.
While in past years it lasted around three months, last year, for instance, it lasted around five months.
The upcoming dry season is expected to be very bad because of low rainfall this year in the Mekong River basin.
Bến Tre has undertaken many saltwater prevention projects in recent years that have helped mitigate the impacts of saltwater intrusion on agriculture and people’s lives.
It has more than 477km of axis canals and grade-1 canals, and 2,238km of grade-2 and -3 canals.
It has 148 saltwater prevention sluices with a width of more than two metres and 1,906 with a width of less than 1.5m.
It also has 650km of sea and river dykes.
However, construction of irrigation projects is not complete and so localities cannot totally mitigate the impacts of the saltwater intrusion yet, according to the People’s Committee.
A salinity rate of two grammes per litre affected the entire province during the last dry season, but most plants can only tolerate up to one gramme. — VNS