Authorities earmark $3 million to fix Mekong River erosion

By Cuu Long   June 3, 2020 | 05:00 pm PT
Authorities earmark $3 million to fix Mekong River erosion
The section along National Highway 91 in An Giang Province that eroded on May 27, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Cuu Long.
The southern province of An Giang has allocated VND70 billion ($3 million) to address erosion caused by a sediment-poor Mekong River branch.

The emergency plan, which draws funding from the national budget, will be implemented until the end of next year to counter erosion along the bank of the Hau River, a branch of the Mekong.

A stretch of 450 m along the bank will be filled with sandbags and rock carpets to prevent further erosion.

Nguyen Duc Duy, management head of investor An Giang Agriculture and Rural Development Investment Construction Project, said it would allow erosion along the Hau River to be contained, ensure the safety of locals and mitigate flood damage.

Duy said the traditional solution is based on the use sandbags and rock carpets as implemented in some areas across the province, such as the Vam Nao River. It is effective, low-cost, and preventative of erosion, he said .

A three kilometer section of the Hau River was straitened by half in width passing through An Giang’s An Thanh Trung Commune in Chau Phu District, prompting the project.

Besides this natural occurrence, the operation of upstream Mekong dams and overexploitation of sand along the river has caused erosion to eat away at nearby National Highway 91, according to experts.

Hundreds of families along Highway 91 have been evacuated, while An Giang Province has spent tens of thousands of dollars building six kilometers of bypasses for vehicles to avoid the eroded area, filling up holes along the river banks.

Since last year, there have been continuous episodes of river sections eroding, stretching 250 m in length and six meters in depth, sweeping away the road and urging about 30 households to relocate. The province has declared a state of emergency over the erosion in An Thanh Trung Commune.

Erosion was caused by the water flow through the curved section of the river, its deep bed and the flow’s deviation toward the concave bank, altogether forming strong currents near the river bank.

In the past 10 years, erosion has thrice struck this section of the Hau River, with a 500 m highway stretch pulled into the water in Binh My Commune.

Most recently, another 40 m of the highway collapsed into the river on May 27 after a crack appeared four days earlier.

In August last year, a 85-meter-long area fell into the river, followed a few weeks later by a 30 m section.

For now, there are no signs erosion would cease, with indications the problem might soon approach the nearby residential area.

A part of National Highway 91 collapses into the Hau River in An Giang Province, May 27, 2020. Video by Huy Phong.

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