HCMC threatened by water shortages

By Bui Hong Nhung   March 15, 2016 | 07:20 pm GMT+7

Saltwater encroaching into rivers surrounding Ho Chi Minh City is likely to lead to a lack of clean water, the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says.

High tides in February, and forecast to extend to March, are responsible for increasing salinity in the river systems around the southern metropolis, according to Pham The Vinh from the Southern Institute of Water Resources Research (SIWRS).

Salinity levels in both the Saigon and Dong Nai rivers during the middle of February surpassed the threshold of 25 milligram per liter. As a result, water was sometimes not able to be purified to meet local demand, the institute reported.

Nha Be, a suburban district on the southern fringe of Ho Chi Minh City, also witnessed a 30 percent to 40 percent growth in salinity levels.

Low levels of rainfall for the first months of 2016, resulting from the prolonged affects of the El Nino weather pattern, has exacerbated the salinity problem.

“Water reserves in many reservoirs are low, so water for consumption and irrigation is in short supply,” said Vinh.

Saigon Water Corporation is planning to construct a new reservoir in the city's Cu Chi district to increase supplies in case salinity levels in the Saigon and Dong Nai rivers continue to worsen.

Salinity has also affected the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam, said the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

More than 100,000 hectares of rice fields have been devastated while 340,000 hectares, accounting for 30 percent of the winter-spring crop, are deemed to be at risk.