03 Mar 20 Vietnamnet Global Source Along with Mekong Delta, the central region will suffer prolonged drought and saline intrusion during the rest of this year's dry season, experts warned.

From March to May, coastal provinces of Thanh Hoa, Ninh Thuan, Binh Thuan, Central Highlands and southeast localities are predicted to witness severe water shortages, Chau Tran Vinh, deputy head of Department of Water Resources Management said on Friday.

Rivers levels are dropping, 25 to 75 per cent lower than the previous years' average, Vĩnh said. Four out of eleven river basins are facing water shortages including Huong River in Thua Thien-Hue Province, Thu Bon River in Quang Nam Province and Ba River in Phu Yen Province, therefore, reservoirs have been restricted to not open floodgates since the beginning of February.

According to Mai Van Khiem, director of the National Centre for Hydro-Metrological Forecasting, most central provinces still have sufficient water supply for farming.

Saline intrusion may hit Ma River and Vu Gia River as reservoirs reach the minimum water level. The amount of water flowing into rivers has remained low, ranging from eight to 25sqm per second. The remaining volume of Vu Gia River is as low as 470 million cu.m.

Northern rivers lack 20 to 50 per cent water volume, compared to the last years' average, especially in provinces of Lai Chau, Son La and Yen Bai as the rainfall declined in February according to Khiem.

Saline intrusion has entered deeper in the Mekong Delta, especially during spring tides from January 9 to 12 and February 22 to 28. Salinity recorded at downstream of rivers of Tien, Hau and Vam Co is equivalent and even higher than the same period in 2016 when the historic drought hit the Delta.

Le Cong Thanh, deputy minister of Natural Resources and Environment, asked Vietnam National Mekong Committee and the National Centre for Hydro-Metrological Forecasting to keep updating information about water security issues in the Mekong Delta.

"Scientists predict saline intrusion will happen more regularly. Therefore, the Vietnam Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Climate Change is to report developments from now until 2030 for the ministry to come up with solutions on water storage in the area," said Thanh.

A report issued by the World Bank in 2019 predicts the rising level of water-related threats could reduce Vietnam's GDP by 6 per cent by 2035. At the same time, the rising demands of water are forecast to harm 11 out of 16 basins in the country by 2030. — VNS