An unforeseen prolonged dry spell has left multiple central Vietnamese areas with a worrying shortage of water, and the worst-case scenario is that this may last until the end of this year.
After the dry season from January to July, central Vietnam is expected to receive large rainfall and extensive floodwaters to quench its thirst and supply mineral nutrients to rice paddies for the rest of the year.
But the desired plenitude of water has not come, with only modest precipitation hitherto recorded.
In September and October, when the region’s rainfall nearly reached the climax of previous years, the amount of rain was just 50-70 percent of the average, according to Le Thanh Hai, deputy head of the Vietnam Meteorological and Hydrological Administration.
Authorities in several provinces gave a more conservative estimate, with the rainfall decreasing by about 50 percent year on year.
Water levels in hydropower plant reservoirs, numbering around 100 in the river-crisscrossed region, have mostly been under the critical point, below which any more discharge of water is ill-advised.
Ngo Xuan The, vice-director of a local hydropower plant, said the facility is being hit by the most serious lack of water in four decades.
Electricity production and agriculture downstream have been disrupted due to limited discharge.
Salt intrusion is happening since rivers do not have enough fresh water to push back effects from the sea.
Residents in the central metropolis of Da Nang are beginning to complain about insufficient running tap water because the coastal city’s riverine pumping station has failed to fetch fresh water.
While it may be fortunate for central Vietnam not to experience typhoons and tropical depressions, which account for around 40 percent of the gross rainfall across the country, they could be what some hope for.
Deputy director Hai said as the region has a fifty-fifty chance of having one or two storms till the year end, it is almost sure to face a severe drought in between.