Vietnam's water usage is wasteful: report

By Son Ha   June 2, 2024 | 01:31 am PT
Vietnam's water usage is wasteful: report
The Hoa Binh hydropower reservoir in northern Vietnam opens its floodgates. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy
Vietnam's water use efficiency is currently $2.37 per m3, while the global average is $19.42 per m3, meaning the country is generating little value by using its water resources.

In a report sent to National Assembly delegates, Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Dang Quoc Khanh said Vietnam is not using water efficiently, especially when it comes to agriculture and in urban areas.

Water use efficiency is measured by the amount of value (in U.S. dollars) generated through the use of a cubic meter of water, based on economic, agricultural, industrial and service activities. The global average of the water efficiency ratio was $17.3 per m3 in 2015, $18.9 per m3 in 2020, and $19.42 per m3 now.

Vietnam has not implemented a system to create proper planning on how to regulate and distribute river water resources, leading to local water usage that has not been optimized for socio-economic interests, according to the environment ministry.

Other reasons for the wasteful use of water include conflicts of interests between different sectors, including hydropower, agriculture, production and civilian use.

Khanh said investment in the water sector is lacking, and the distribution of resources is unbalanced. Meanwhile, several rivers and reservoirs are showing signs of water flow declines.

The environment ministry has built a system to monitor water usage, capable of tracking water flow and seeing if standards for water resource planning are being met. It is also cooperating with the Ministry of Science and Technology to research and map out national projects that aim to ensure water security and dam safety, as well as implement climate change responses for the sustainable development of the Mekong Delta.

The ministry is also deploying projects to regulate water in large river systems, which help provide freshwater to coastal areas. In the coming times, the ministry would automate the management infrastructure of the water sector.

Lake and dam safety

Vietnam has around 1,104 reservoirs classified as "degraded" that are incapable of flood regulation, and are without funds for upgrades, the ministry said.

Authorities are also concerned about heightened risks to lake and dam safety due to climate change and deforestation.

Since 2010, Vietnam has experienced 75 dam and reservoir breakages. The breakages happened when rains and water flows overloaded the reservoirs’ capacity and damaged them. Management units of such dams and reservoirs has also sometimes been incompetent, according to authorities.

Khanh said the ministry had proposed certain changes regarding the operation of reservoirs to ensure water regulation and distribution. The ministry has also built data networks on the operation of 134 dams and reservoirs, and once infrastructural needs are met, the ministry aims for real-time operation of reservoirs to ensure safety and maximize water usage.

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