Da Nang in fear of water shortage

By Staff reporters   May 7, 2023 | 07:05 pm PT
Da Nang and its neighbor Quang Nam are at risk of water shortages over the next three months due to El Nino impact and improper water discharge from hydroelectric plants.

Da Nang, the Cau Do Water Plant provides about 80% of clean water for the central city of more than 1.1 million people. Salinity in recent days is approximately 1,000 mg/liter, making it difficult to collect water.

Ho Minh Nam, general director of Da Nang Water Supply JSC, said that the city uses up to 340,000 cubic meters of water every day. However, it is predicted that the city will face the risk of water shortage this year due to the ineffective dilution of water from the An Trach saline prevention station.

The same happened in Quang Nam, home to tourist town Hoi An, where the dry season has just started. The area downstream of the province’s main river Thu Bon has been salinized.

The pumping station of the Agricultural Cooperative in Duy Phuoc Commune in Duy Xuyen District usually collects water from the Cau Lau River, but it is also salinized at 14.7 parts per 1,000.

Tu Cau Dam on Vinh Dien River, Dien Ban Town was built to prevent salinity from Han River, Da Nang. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh

Tu Cau Dam on Vinh Dien River, Dien Ban Town, Quang Nam Province, was built to prevent salinity from invading the Han River in Da Nang. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh

Director of the cooperative Le Trung Nam said that the pumping station provided water for 377 hectares of rice. It is expected that farmers will start producing their summer-autumn crop in late May, but with the current salinity situation, it is impossible to get water for production, because the allowable salinity is equal or less than 0.8 parts per 1,000, but now it is 18 times higher.

"If the heat wave continues until May 20 and there is no water from the hydroelectricity upstream to the pumping station, the summer-autumn crop cannot be started," Nam said.

Dao Van Thien, deputy director of Quang Nam MTV Irrigation, said that the summer-autumn crop of about 3,000 hectares of rice in the north of the province was at risk of water shortage as the water level of upstream hydroelectric reservoirs is lower than the inter-reservoir operation process.

At 7 a.m. on Friday, the water level of A Vuong hydropower reservoir was 360 m (10 m lower than the lowest flood water level), Song Bung 4 reservoir was 212 m (4 m lower), Song Bung 2 reservoir was 594 m (6 m lower) and Song Tranh 2 reservoir is 162 m (3 m lower).

The cause of the water shortage in hydroelectric reservoirs is that the plants did not discharge water according to the inter-reservoir operation process for the Vu Gia and Thu Bon rivers, according to the Water Resources Management Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment in April.

Low water levels may lead to insufficient water supply for production and daily life in downstream areas until the end of the dry season, especially Da Nang. The department has recommended plants stop discharging excessive water amount.

The Tranh River 2 Hydropower Plant in Quang Nam Province. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh

Song Tranh River 2 Hydropower Plant in Quang Nam Province. Photo by VnExpress/Dac Thanh

The risk of water shortage also stems from El Nino, which brings more intense heat and less rain. The National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting said that this year's total rainfall would be generally lower than the average of many years and there would be little chance of heavy rain in late May and early June. Drought and water shortages may occur in the central region and the Central Highlands from May to August.

After being warned of improper water discharge, Ngo Xuan The, deputy general director of A Vuong Hydropower JSC, said: "Every time the dispatch center requires power generation, the plant must operate to ensure the safety of power supply. Currently, the water level is lower than recommended and we have reported to Quang Nam Province and specialized agencies."

A representative of Electricity of Vietnam (EVN) said that in recent months, the weather had been unfavorable and the water in many hydropower reservoirs was lower than the average of many years and much lower than the forecast.

The plants have to supply water downstream and ensure electricity supply at the same time, leaving the water level low at some points.

However, EVN said that supplying water to the downstream area was an important task and the hydropower plants would ensure supply until the end of the dry season.

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