Hydropower plants, resorts cause severe erosion in Hoi An: experts

By Hoang Son, Thanh Nien News

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Part of a coastline in Quang Nam Province has been severely eroded. Photo: Hoang Son Part of a coastline in Quang Nam Province has been severely eroded. Photo: Hoang Son


Experts are blaming the poorly planned construction of hydropower plants and coastal resorts for the increasing erosion in Hoi An, one of the most loved destinations in Vietnam.
A fisherman from the central coastal town said the situation has become more severe of late.
At least 50 meters of the coastline have been swallowed by strong waves the past five years, he said, shaking his head.
The local government in March had to deploy hundreds of militiamen to build new breakwaters as strong waves, combined with unusual rains, made the situation much worse.
Staff members at a resort near the embankment Cua Dai said there were destructively strong waves in early October last year, when all coastal resorts were in an unprecedented crisis. 
Parts of a bar were destroyed and devoured by the waves, they said.
A source from Quang Nam Province’s construction department said many coastal hotels and resorts are being threatened, and some investors were so scared they abandoned their unfinished projects.
But Le Dinh Mau from Nha Trang Institute of Oceanography, said the tourism industry has to take part of the responsibility.
Mau said the town’s coast has been under "pressure” from activities of resorts and hotels.
He said the contractors of those projects did not have a proper understanding of how powerful waves can be.
The power of water
Experts suspect the major cause of the problem is the construction of hydropower plants at the upstream of the Vu Gia and the Thu Bon, two rivers that supply a large amount of mud and sand for Hoi An. 
Vu Thanh Ca, director of the Vietnam Sea and Island Management and Research Institute, said the rivers have been blocked by the hydropower projects, which affects the accumulation of sand downstream and increases rates of coastal erosion. 
Ca said studies have consistently shown that climate change has not left any significant impact on the area. 
The rise in the sea level has not been big enough to create such sudden changes, Ca said, arguing that the hydropower plants are to blame for the problem.
Local rivers now have to shoulder 10 hydropower projects.
Tanaka Hitoshi, environmental hydrodynamics professor at Tohoku University, also blamed the hydropower dams for holding back sand and mud and making the coastal area more susceptible to erosion.

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