According to the Southern Institute of Water Resources Research, Chinese hydro-power plants have reduced their water discharge for a long time in January has affected water flows in the Mekong Delta and resulted in severest saline intrusion from February 8 to 16, coinciding with the Tet (Lunar New Year) holiday.
The severe saline intrusion would likely increase on the occasion of the full moon of the new lunar year, it said.
To deal with the situation, the institute recommended localities to take proactive measures to prevent droughts and saline intrusion right now. The reasons were that water resources during the 2020-2021 dry season would be low and unexpected saline intrusion might occur since the beginning of the dry season and last until May. Extreme weather has also been predicted to happen.
The dry season, which normally starts in late November and lasts until late April the next year in the Mekong Delta - the nation’s most fertile region, also known as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam.
The coastal areas of the Mekong Delta are said to be at risk of fresh water shortage in the middle of the dry season. Saline intrusion is expected to be high in the estuaries of the Mekong River in February and March, and decrease gradually in June.
It was necessary for localities in Mekong Delta coastal areas to take initiative in storing water and supplying water for domestic use, the institute said.
Sluices should be strictly managed to control salinity level and have water for production as well as minimise damage caused by rising salinity level in February.
In response to saline intrusion, the central region of the Mekong Delta should reduce the production of winter-spring crops in areas which were affected last year and strengthen measures to protect water resources, store water and pumping systems when needed.
It’s a must to monitor the salinity level before watering plants, especially for fruit trees, according to the institute.
Localities were instructed to actively accumulate water as soon as possible to deal with the negative impact of a change of water discharge from Chinese hydro-power plants during low tides in February.
The institutute recommended the upper areas of Mekong Delta to ensure enough water source for agricultural production. They should be proactive in starting winter-spring crops earlier than usual in order to reduce the usage in months with water scarcity.
It was essential for the localities to pay attention to supplying water for highland areas of Tri Ton and Tinh Bien districts in An Giang Province which were hit hard by drought in recent years, it said.
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