Low water levels threaten rice crop, power supply

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State power utility EVN said it would open its reservoirs to supply 2.72 billion cubic meters of water to irrigate rice fields during January and February as water levels in the Northern region are expected to dip drastically.

Water levels on the Red River and the Thai Binh River could fall as low as 30 percent below average during this year's dry season, according to the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.

At the end of the dry season, they may drop as low as 45 percent below average, state forecasters warned.

EVN said on Thursday that in order to alleviate drought conditions, it would open sluice gates at three reservoirs Hoa Binh, Thac Ba, and Tuyen Quang from January 27 to February 2 and then from February 13 to February 20.

Dang Hoang An, deputy general director of EVN, was quoted in a Tien Phong newspaper report as saying that major hydropower plants have faced serious water shortages since 2010.

"Right now, water is as valuable as oil and blood and there's too little to waste," he said.

He noted the discharges in January and February amount to the best the company can do to ensure that farmers have enough water for their winter-spring crops.

Additional discharges would dry out the reservoirs, halting power production, he said.

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