Water crisis looms as short monsoon, El Nino hit southern reservoir

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The water level in Dau Tieng Reservoir has been much lower than the average of previous years. Photo credit: Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon The water level in Dau Tieng Reservoir has been much lower than the average of previous years. Photo credit: Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon

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A large reservoir that supplies water for Ho Chi Minh City and nearby provinces has seen its water level falling rapidly, signaling a possible severe shortage for the whole region, experts said.
“Low rainfall as an impact of El Nino has significantly lowered the water level of Dau Tieng Reservoir,” said Nguyen Van Dam, director of the HCMC Irrigation Service Company.
The reservoir on the Dong Nai River, whose main tributary Saigon flows into the East Sea, supplies water for vast farmland areas in Tay Ninh, Long An, Binh Duong and HCMC. It is also sourced for tap water for 10 million people in HCMC and Binh Duong.
Dam said low rainfall upstream has caused an increase in salinity. 
“The rainy season is predicted to end one month earlier than in previous years and this will exacerbate the problem,” he was quoted by Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon as saying.
The water level at Dau Tieng Reservoir has hovered around 21 meters, compared to the average 24.4 meters in previous years. 
Meanwhile, the demand for water for irrigation has been on the rise due to newly-cultivated areas in Tay Ninh and Long An.
Tap water shortage
According to Saigon Water Corporation (Sawaco), the company’s plants cannot treat saline water in the river.
The company said it had to suspend tap water services several times because the salt concentration in the water was too high. 
The company also warned about pollution in the river and the increased risk of coliform bacteria contamination.
Last week, water resource management agencies in Tay Ninh, Long An and HCMC have met to discuss solutions for the potential shortage.
Water will be prioritized for tap services and aquatic farming while crop farmers may have to switch to other plants that need less water than rice, Dam said.
“Dau Tieng Reservoir has cut back its discharge to save water for the final months,” he said, adding that a reservoir nearby will be sourced to minimize the impact of the water crisis that will likely affect the whole southeastern region. 

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