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Southern Vietnam forecast to suffer severe drought, salinity in coming dry season

Friday, October 09, 2015, 14:55 GMT+7

The southern region of Vietnam will face a more serious drought in the 2015-16 dry season than in previous years, the Southern Hydro-meteorological Station has warned.

Water from the upper Mekong River usually flows down to areas in southern Vietnam at the end of September or early October, causing river tides to rise and providing enough water for locals, which more often than not entails flooding, Dang Van Dung, deputy director of the station, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper. 

This year, this has not occurred and the water in many rivers is standing at record low levels, signaling that the region will face a more severe drought in the 2015-16 dry season than in recent history, Dung said.

It is predicted that the coming dry season will start at the end of October or early November, when this year’s rainy season ends, 10-15 days sooner than the past several years, Dung warned.

Such a situation means many southern localities will suffer fresh water shortage for agricultural production and day-to-day activities, he added.

Dung blamed the predicted drought on the ongoing El Nino phenomenon, which refers to the warming of the central to eastern tropical Pacific that occurs on average every two to seven years.

Because of the El Nino, the upper Mekong River in Laos and Cambodia has received little rain, reducing the downstream flow of water to southern Vietnam.

In addition, rainfall in many regional provinces has also been lower than the annual average, the expert said.

For example, the total rainfall recorded from the beginning of this year until the end of September in Binh Phuoc Province’s Phuoc Long Town was 874mm less than the figure during the same period for the last several years. 

Of the rainfall volumes recorded at 30 observation stations, only six are equal to the annual average rate of the past few years.

The low rainfall has caused low tides on many rivers, including 2.51 meters in An Giang Province’s Tan Chau Town in September, which is significantly lower than the 2.82 meters recorded in 1997, and is the lowest level ever observed, Dung said.

Along with the coming drought, saltwater is predicted to penetrate many rivers in the southern region, including the Mekong, Dong Nai and Saigon Rivers, he warned.

The official advised that all southern localities store fresh water now and take measures to cope with the possible impacts of the coming drought and salinity.

Farmers engaged in aquaculture and agricultural production should closely follow weather developments to make changes where required to their farming activities, especially in the coming winter-spring crop, Dung said.

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