Ho Chi Minh City’s water supply is being threatened by saltwater intrusion in the Saigon and Dong Nai rivers, Saigon Water Corporation (Sawaco) said Tuesday.
The rivers are two main sources of water for Sawaco’s plants, which have a combined capacity of 1.65 million cubic meters a day.
Sawaco said one of its plants, Tan Hiep, had to suspend collecting water from the Saigon River 15 times since January 25 as the salt concentration in the water hit a high level of 366 mg per liter at times. The acceptable level is 250 mg per liter.
Sawaco's Deputy General Director Bui Thanh Giang told Thanh Nien that Tan Hiep plant’s output has been cut by half to between 178,000 and 220,000 cubic meters a day.
To ensure the supply, the company increased the output of another plant, which sources water from the Dong Canal in Cu Chi District, he said.
However, if saltwater intrusion in the Saigon River keeps rising in the coming months, Tan Hiep will have to stop collecting water for 12 hours a day or even longer, leading to tap water shortages, Giang said.
Statistics from the Southern Hydrometeorological Center showed that salinity in the Saigon river reached 6 per mil this week, compared with 3.5 per mil from a year ago, while the level in the Dong Nai increased from 9 per mil last year to 13.3 per milliliter.
Saltwater intrusion is forecast to worsen in the coming weeks, the center said, adding that drought will last until June.
Dr. Le Huy Ba, former director of an environment institute at Ho Chi Minh City University of Industry, said it is necessary to build water reservoirs to cope with the situation.
“The city should build reservoirs that can store more than 1,000 cubic meters of water each. Water plants will use them when the salt concentration in the rivers rises,” he said.
In addition, Ba urged authorities to deepen the Tay Ninh-based Dau Tieng Reservoir, which supplies water for Ho Chi Minh City and nearby provinces, to retain more water for tough times.