Next few months may be the driest in the city for more than half a century.
The most severe drought in six decades is forecast for Ho Chi Minh City over the next few months, with a major shortage of water for irrigation and saltwater intrusion into its rivers.
A drought is occurring throughout the country and Ho Chi Minh City is among the worst hit in the south, with 30-40 per cent less rainfall last year as the wet season began late and finished early, according to the Southern Regional Hydro Meteorological Forecast Center. The dry season from January to April will therefore be very serious and directly affect millions of people.
Figures from the city’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development’s Bureau of Irrigation and Flood and Storm Prevention put salinity in Nha Be district in December at 32 per cent higher than a year earlier and 80 per cent higher than the average in recent years. From now until Tet there will be two King tides, which will result in widespread intrusion by saltwater, according to Mr. Nguyen Xuan Hoang, Deputy Head of the Bureau.
Mr. Bui Xuan Dai, Deputy Director of Dau Tieng Irrigation Exploitation Company, said that localities downstream of the reservoir on the man-made Dau Tieng Lake in Tay Ninh province, northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, are expected to face a severe water shortage due to the El Nino affect. The highest water level in the lake recently has been only 23 meters, or 1.4 meters lower than normal, which translates into a shortage of 300 million cubic meters of water. Mr. Dai said the shortage would have been much worse if water from the Phuoc Hoa reservoir had not been released into the lake. The water, originally meant to be supplied elsewhere, is flowing in at a rate of 50 cu m per second.
The Sai Gon Water Company (SAWACO) is cooperating with other relevant organizations to address the matter.
Mr. Bach Vu Hai, Deputy General Director of SAWACO, said it would coordinate with the Dau Tieng Irrigation Exploitation Company to release freshwater from the lake to push the saltwater back towards the sea.
SAWACO will also try to supply sufficient water for residents, have a reserve source of water, monitor salinity, raise awareness among people about saving clean water, and encourage farmers to plant dry crops instead of wet rice. In the worst case scenario the company will only supply water to industrial areas and households and cease supply to agricultural areas.