Mekong Delta erosion incidents increase

Landslides along riverbanks and the coast in the Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta have been increasing as local authorities continue to struggle to find solutions amid a budget shortage.

Last month, more than 10 erosion incidents occurred in the Delta, including in Cà Mau, Hậu Giang and Long An provinces and Cần Thơ City.

In Cần Thơ, a landslide occurred along the Ô Môn River in Ô Môn District on May 21, causing five houses to fall into the river and threaten the safety of dozen of other houses.

The landslide in Thới An Ward’s Thới Lợi area eroded 55 metres of a river bank, and extended 10 metres deep inland. It caused a 50-metre section of a rural road to collapse into the river.

In Long An Province, a serious landslide occurred at an embankment on the Vàm Cỏ River in Cần Đước District’s Tân Chánh Commune on May 23.

The erosion was 50 metres long and 8 metres wide. Cracks in houses were seen after the landslide.

Previously, the embankment had eroded in some sections, and a house located at the section affected on May 23 fell into the river.

Võ Kim Thuần, head of the Long An Province’s Sub-department of Irrigation, said on Thursday that the province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development officials had visited the sites and would try to come up with solutions to stop erosion incidents.

Local authorities have set up warning signs and barriers at the eroded site to ensure safety for transport and the public, he said.

Trương Công Định, a resident in Tân Chánh Commune, said the embankment on the river had some cracks and eroded on May 23.

The delta has 562 eroded sites along rivers and sea coasts with a total length of 786km, according to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Of the number, 42 eroded sites have a combined length of 149km, including 26 river sites and 16 coastal sites. These are extremely dangerous and need to be resolved urgently.

The total investment in the Delta to solve eroded sites is expected to cost about VNĐ6.99 trillion (US$307.9 million).

An Giang, Đồng Tháp, Cà Mau and Bạc Liêu provinces have been most affected by erosion in the delta.

Erosion prevention

As of the end of last year, only 138 km of eroded river sites and 49 km of eroded coastal sites in the delta have embankments and dykes built, according to the Southern Institute of Water Resources Research.

A model to build wave-breaking dykes along the eroded coast to reduce the damage of waves and preserve silt built-up to plant mangrove forests in the eroded area on Cà Mau Province’s Cà Mau Cape has achieved positive results.

However, the construction of embankments and dykes in the delta could not catch up with the erosion rate because of the lack of budget, planning and co-operation among the delta’s localities, according to experts.

The delta’s soil foundation is low and weak, so local authorities should relocate households in erosion-prone areas to safe areas, they said.

Construction projects that were built illegally along riverbanks should be demolished, they said.

Local authorities should also ban construction of houses and other building projects within 20-30 metres of riverbanks where erosion prevention projects have not been built, they said.

At a meeting held in Cần Thơ City on Thursday to review the city’s task of natural disaster prevention, control and rescue, Võ Thành Thống, chairman of the city’s People’s Committee, said that local authorities should stop granting licences to build houses on rivers.

The chairpersons of the People’s Committees of communes and wards would be held responsible for building stilt houses on rivers, he said.

This year, erosion occurred in the city’s Ô Môn, Bình Thủy, Thốt Nốt, Cái Răng and Phong Điền districts. Of the districts, Ô Môn was the hardest hit.

Lê Việt Sĩ, chairman of the Ô Môn District People’s Committee, said landslides along the Ô Môn River in Thới An Ward had affected 36 households.

The district had asked the city to offer housing for 22 families whose houses had been affected by erosion, he said.

Source: Vietnam News

Mekong Cái Lớn-Cái Bé sluice gate project is not necessary

Many experts and scientists on Monday continued to express concern about the Cái Lớn-Cái Bé dual sluice project in Kiên Giang Province and its possible impact on the region.

The project is expected to control saline intrusion and adapt to climate change.

At a meeting on the sluice project held in Cần Thơ on Monday, a report from the independent group of the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development and United Nations Development Programme in Việt Nam showed that saline intrusion was from the region’s eastern sea, but the sluice only controls water from the western sea.

Traffic is increasing on the two rivers of Cái Lớn and Cái Bé, forcing sluices to open, so it is difficult to control salinity as required.

However, the group concluded that the Cái Lớn-Cái Bé dual sluice project is necessary.

Đặng Kiều Nhân, representative of Mekong Delta Development Research Institute, said the project owner was unclear about the VNĐ8 trillion (US$350.9 million) investment.

As scheduled, the management board for investment and building irrigation infrastructure project No.10 under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development collected public opinions about the project’s implementation last year.

But residents have not been informed about the project, Nhân said.

Nguyễn Hữu Thiện, an independent expert on Mekong Delta’s ecology, said the project should not be carried out. Severe drought and saline intrusion in 2016 was caused by El Nino’s impact at that time, and it only occurs one time every 90 years.

The independent group said that the project was needed because of rising water levels but he disagreed with that conclusion.

In reality, the sea water rises only 3mm per year, while the region faces dangerous depression because of exploitation of underground water, Thiện said.

The environment has been damaged and rivers blocked, so people have been forced to exploit underground water, he added. If the project is carried out, the environmental risk and depression could worsen.

The project would not help ensure food security as the independent group claimed, Thiện said.

He said that in 2016 when the region suffered severe drought and saline intrusion, nearly 5 million of tonnes of rice were exported. Food security was not severely affected.

There is no evidence that shows the project would prevent fresh water from running out in the region, he said.

Dr Dương Văn Ni of Cần Thơ University’s faculty of environment and natural resources, said the project could affect thousands of people in the region.

On the same fields, farmers sometimes need both salt water and fresh water. So it is not necessary to carry out the project to prevent saline intrusion, he said.

Source: Vietnam News