Province to build largest reservoir in Mekong Delta to cope with droughts, salinity

By Hoang Nam   September 11, 2020 | 02:43 pm GMT+7
Province to build largest reservoir in Mekong Delta to cope with droughts, salinity
A dry rice field in Ba Tri District, Ben Tre Province, March, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Huu Khoa.

Authorities in Ben Tre Province have approved a plan to build the Mekong Delta's largest freshwater reservoir to help tackle drought and salinity during the dry season.

Construction of the Lac Dia Lake, which will have a capacity of 1.3 million cubic meters, is expected to begin in 2021 and take five years, according to Nguyen Huu Lap, the province's vice chairman.

The 57-hectare four-meter-deep lake will actually be part of a 121-hectare residential and cultural complex that will cost over VND352 billion ($15 million).

The lake will have enough water for five months for 59,500 households in Ba Tri District and 150,000 head of cattle, 340 commercial establishments and 255 health centers and schools.

"Since the Mekong Delta suffered the worst drought in a century in 2016 it became necessary to build the freshwater reservoir, and Ben Tre is proposing to build more reservoirs in three coastal districts," Lap said.

Kenh Lap with a capacity of nearly one million cubic meters, also in Ben Tre, is now the Mekong Delta’s largest manmade freshwater body. It was built at a cost of VND85 billion, but is now virtually dry, leaving 11,000 families without water.

The Mekong Delta suffered severe drought and salt intrusion this summer, with conditions worse than the historic drought in 2016. That year 600,000 people did not have access to freshwater and 160,000 hectares of paddy were damaged with farmers losing 800,000 tons of rice and suffering losses of VND5.5 trillion.

The delta is home to 17.5 million people, or a fifth of the country's population, and identified as one of the most vulnerable in the world to climate change.

This year saltwater intruded 50-110 kilometers into major rivers in the delta, even deeper than in 2016.

The lack of freshwater lasted more than six months, leaving 80,000 families high and dry, and damaged 43,000 hectares of paddy. The government provided VND350 billion worth of assistance to the region.

Six provinces, Ben Tre, Ca Mau, Kien Giang, Long An, Soc Trang and Tien Giang, declared an emergency over the salinity.

Experts have blamed El Nino and Chinese dams on the Mekong for the parching of the delta.

 
 
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