Appreciating the efforts of Ben Tre with the commitment that by 2023, the province will no longer have saline intrusion, the Prime Minister raised the question: When will other localities in the Mekong Delta no longer get saline intrusion?

Image: VGP/Quang Hieu

In the afternoon of March 8, in Ben Tre province, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc had a meeting with some Mekong Delta provinces on drought, saltwater intrusion, which is expected to be more severe in the near future.
Attending the meeting were Deputy Prime Minister Trinh Dinh Dung, leaders of a number of ministries, branches and provinces of Ben Tre, Tien Giang, Long An, Kien Giang and Ca Mau.
Speaking at the beginning of the meeting, the Prime Minister said about the situation of COVID-19 epidemic, affirming that the epidemic is under close control of the Government. Recently, there are tourists from abroad, causing infection but has been frozen, medical isolation, treatment. On March 7, when a case was detected with COVID-19, some individuals created an atmosphere of shortage of fake goods, some with poor motives, and bought goods.
The Prime Minister also emphasized that we have and will provide adequate goods, food and foodstuffs in provinces and cities, especially in big cities, without deprivation of any goods items, affecting people’s lives. Ministries, branches, localities, groups, corporations do their best to provide all the necessities for people's life.

The Prime Minister inspected the project against flooding in Chau Thanh district, Ben Tre province - Image: VGP/Quang Hieu

Regarding drought and saltwater intrusion, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc said that this year the situation is expected to be more severe than in 2016. Therefore, since September 2019, the Prime Minister has chaired the Conference to implement measures to prevent and combat drought and saline intrusion to minimize the loss, such as directing early transplantation of Winter-Spring crop, restructure crops, especially rice in areas that are likely to be saline. The area of rice damaged was about 39,000 ha, only equal to 9.6% compared to 2016 (over 405,000 ha of rice was damaged). This is an important success. However, the forecast is stricter than in 2016, so the damage caused is still large. 
At the meeting, the Prime Minister asked delegates to focus on discussing immediate and long-term measures to prevent drought and salinity. First of all is discussing measures to solve the problem of lack of domestic water for people, "this is an urgent requirement, cannot be slower". The second is to minimize the socio-economic losses in the region, especially in five provinces that have to declare urgent situations of saline intrusion (Ben Tre, Tien Giang, Long An, Ca Mau, Kien Giang).
The Prime Minister asked the delegates to propose structural and non-structural solutions in the spirit of Resolution 120 on sustainable development of the Mekong Delta to cope with climate change and "in the period of 2021-2025, are there any urgent constructions need to do it soon.” Not only propose a solution but also contact the responsibility, see if there is a delay.
Earlier, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc surveyed a number of drought and salt prevention projects in Ben Tre province, including a temporary dam blocking the Ba Lai stream (Chau Thanh district) to prevent saltwater from the sea encroaching on the mainland creating a channel of fresh water channel and An Hiep sluice, the work has just been completed in February 2020, 3 months ahead of schedule.

Temporary anti-saline dam in Ba Lai, Chau Thanh, Ben Tre - Image: VGP/Quang Hieu

According to a report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, saline intrusion has affected production and livelihoods since December 2019 and has continuously increased so far, affecting 10/13 provinces in the Mekong Delta (except An Giang, Dong Thap and Can Tho).
In February 2020, saline intrusion increased from February 8 to February 16, 2020, with the salinity boundary of 4 g / l in the area of 2 Vam Co rivers from 100-110 km, deeper than the same period in 2016 from 4-6 km; Mekong River estuary area is from 66-75 km, deeper than the same period in 2016 from 3-10 km.
For Ben Tre province, saline intrusion covers the whole area of the locality, during high tide, there is almost no fresh water source for production and people's daily life.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development said that in March, saline intrusion will continue to increase, especially from March 7 to March 15, 2020 at the estuaries of the Mekong. Specifically, at the estuaries of Vam Co river (Vam Co Dong, Vam Co Tay), the deepest scope of influence is from 100-110 km, estuaries of Tieu and Cua Dai have the deepest influence of about 60 km, Ham Luong river about 78 km, Hau river about 70 km ...
In the next period of the dry season, saline intrusion will continue to rise as the tide rises; as the upstream reservoirs have not increased their discharge yet, saline intrusion will continue to remain high until April 2020.
Currently, there are about 95,600 households facing difficulties during the drought, saline intrusion in domestic water (the total number of households facing difficulties in 2015-2016 is 210,000 households). Households experiencing difficulties in running water are being encouraged by localities to provide adequate water supplies.