Third Vietnam province declares emergency over river salinity, water shortage

By Hoang Nam   April 17, 2024 | 09:24 pm PT
Third Vietnam province declares emergency over river salinity, water shortage
People in Can Giuoc District in Long An Province use plastic cans to ask for free water for daily use, April 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Hoang Nam
Long An Province in the Mekong Delta and next door to HCMC has declared an emergency after saltwater intrusion up its rivers has affected 20,000 people.

Saline levels of 1-4 parts per 1,000 have been found 72-80 km in land in its Vam Co Dong and Vam Co Tay Rivers.

Forecasters said a level of 4/1,000 would soon reach far inland of the two rivers.

River salinity levels usually hover around 0.25/1,000.

Water with higher than salinity levels should not be used for cooking, and once very high levels (around 3/1,000) are reached, the water should not be used for showering or laundry either as it can ruin water heaters and washing machines.

During this year's dry season more than 20,000 people in Can Giuoc, Can Duoc and Tan Tru districts have been suffering from water shortages.

The province has asked the government for more than VND164 billion (US$6.5 million) to combat the shortage and saltwater intrusion.

In addition to dredging canals and installing pumps, more than VND30 billion would be used clean water supply pipes, buy water storage equipment and filters for saltwater, and transport water to households.

Earlier Tien Giang and Ca Mau provinces, both in the Mekong Delta, declared similar emergencies.

The Mekong Delta suffers from saltwater intrusion every year, but the more intense heat and rising sea levels caused by climate change are increasing the threat.

Research published last month said Vietnam's Mekong delta, which provides food and livelihood to tens of millions of people, faces nearly $3 billion a year worth of crop losses as more saltwater seeps into arable land.

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