China’s wa­ter re­lease help­ing Viet­nam


China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By WANG JIAN in Ho Chi Minh City and XU WEI in Bei­jing

The vil­lage where Vo Linh Hue lives is dot­ted with oys­ter farms, but in re­cent weeks farm­ers there have done noth­ing but clear dead oys­ters from the ponds.

Ben Tre prov­ince, in Viet­nam’s south­ern Mekong Delta, is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing the worst drought in re­cent his­tory, and saline in­tru­sion has hit rice and oys­ter farm­ers es­pe­cially hard.

“This is the area where the river flows into the city. But now the sea­wa­ter has pushed in­land and killed all the oys­ters,” said Hue, 23, whose fam­ily lives in the Ben Tre vil­lage of Thua Thanh and has re­lied on oys­ter farm­ing for decades.

At the re­quest of Viet­nam, China has dou­bled the amount of wa­ter be­ing dis­charged from the Jinghong Hy­dropower Sta­tion, which is in South­west China’s Yun­nan prov­ince, to help al­le­vi­ate the drought. The sta­tion is on the up­per reaches of the river, which is known in China as the Lan­cang River.

Be­tween March 15 and April 10, the vol­ume of wa­ter dis­charged from the sta­tion is to be about three to three­and-a-half times the nor­mal wa­ter flow, ac­cord­ing to China’s Min­istry of Wa­ter Re­sources.

The first wa­ter dis­charged by China had al­ready ar­rived at the sec­tion of the Mekong River in Viet­nam as of Mon­day, ac­cord­ing to Viet­nam News Agency.

Tran Duc Cuonga, a se­nior of­fi­cial with the Mekong River Com­mis­sion in Viet­nam, said on Tues­day that the wa­ter dis­charged by China can sup­ply the sec­tion of the river in his coun­try un­til April 29.

Theemer­gen­cy­wa­ter­sup­ply has given a ray of hope to many rice farm­ers, who are on the verge of crop fail­ure amid the se­vere drought.

Nguyen Thi Lua, a rice farmer in the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal, Ben Tre, said she hopes the wa­ter from China can help save some of the rice pad­dies.

“It will not rain soon. So, if wa­ter dis­charged from China’s dam comes here, even if there is no rain, the wa­ter will help or­di­nary peo­ple like us to save rice fields, and cut costs on wa­ter for do­mes­tic use and on an­i­mal feed, mak­ing our daily lives bet­ter,” she told Xin­huaNews Agency.

How­ever, some farm­ers in Ben Tre prov­ince said the drought is so se­vere that the dis­charge can­not com­pletely solve the prob­lems.

“I have heard the news that China has in­creased the amount of wa­ter dis­charged to the lower reaches. But it is too far away from here. Even if the wa­ter flows to here, it would be far from enough to stop the in­land saline in­tru­sion,” said a young res­i­dent of Ap Thua Thanh vil­lage who re­quested anonymity.

Due to saline in­tru­sion, the river and un­der­ground wa­ter in Ben Tre prov­ince’s ru­ral coastal ar­eas can no longer be used for drink­ing or ir­ri­ga­tion. CANADAMany res­i­dents have had to­buyfresh­wa­ter­fromdeep wells, ac­cord­ing toXin­hua.

Zhang Bot­ing, a se­nior re­searcher­attheChi­naSo­ci­ety for Hy­dropower Engi­neer­ing, said it is un­re­al­is­tic to rely on wa­ter dis­charged from the dam in China to elim­i­nate the drought in the lower reaches of Viet­nam.

“We need to keep in mind that the wa­ter vol­ume of the Lan­cang River in China is less than 20 per­cent of the to­tal wa­ter vol­ume of the Mekong River,” he said.

Zhang said other coun­tries that have trib­u­taries of the Mekong must step up ef­forts to store more wa­ter dur­ing flood sea­son to help al­le­vi­ate drought dur­ing the river’s dry sea­son.

Vietnamese Deputy PrimeMin­is­ter and For­eign Min­is­ter Pham Binh Minh toldVNA that, since China’s in­creased wa­ter re­lease, Laos has fol­lowed its ex­am­ple and re­leased wa­ter from its dams, fur­ther help­ing to in­crease the Mekong’s wa­ter level.

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A farmer in Ben Tre prov­ince (left) car­ries parched rice straw to feed cat­tle on April 2. Viet­nam has been struck by its worst drought in nearly a cen­tury and salin­iza­tion of wa­ter is hit­ting farm­ers in the delta. China re­leased an emer­gency wa­ter sup­ply from its hy­dropower sta­tion in Yun­nan to feed the down­stream Mekong River.


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