With the aim of encouraging awareness of the problem of groundwater depletion and delta subsidence among managers, local politicians, scientists, and other entities, the DRAGON-Mekong Institute at Can Tho University, in collaboration with the Arcadis organization (Netherlands), hosted a webinar on "Governance on Land Subsidence and Groundwater Management in the Mekong Delta” with special focus on Bac Lieu, Ca Mau and Kien Giang on December 17th, 2021, under the sponsorship of the Netherlands Enterprise Agency.
Participants attending the webinar included representatives from the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, the Department of Industry and Trade, the Department of Construction, the Water Supply Company, the Women's Union, the Farmers' Union, the Union of Science and Technology Associations of Ben Tre, Soc Trang, and Tra Vinh province/city, as well as scientists from engineering, water management, geology, and other related fields from Can Tho University, Political Academy Region IV, Hanoi University of Mining and Geology, Hanoi University of Water Resources, Kien Giang University and Bac Lieu University. There is also the participation of news reports from Bac Lieu Newspaper, Ca Mau Newspaper.
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Van Pham Dang Tri, Vice Director, DRAGON-Mekong Institute, Can Tho University delivered the webinar’s opening speech.
Dr. Dang Kieu Nhan, Director of the Mekong Delta Development Research Institute at Can Tho University, spoke on governance and societal challenges in groundwater exploitation and land subsidence.
Dr. Dinh Diep Anh Tuan - Chief of Office, DRAGON-Mekong Institute, shared about "Climate adapt to resilience: Water supply in the Mekong Delta”
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Van Pham Dang Tri, Vice Director, DRAGON-Mekong Institute, Can Tho University briefly introduced technical issues and groundwater resource management.
During the discussion session, representatives from the provinces/cities presented challenges related to groundwater resources and land subsidence in their respective areas and the Vietnamese Mekong Delta as a whole, as well as proposed various ideas for the sustainable use of groundwater resources.
Ms. Phung Thi Bich Lam - Director of the Environmental Protection Sub-Department, representative of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment of Kien Giang Province spoke about groundwater resources and local land subsidence issues.
Ms. Duong Thi Ngoc Tuyen - Head of Water Resources Department, Department of Natural Resources and Environment of Ca Mau province spoke about groundwater resources and local land subsidence issues.
During the discussion session, the workshop also received sharing and contributions from experts interested in groundwater exploitation and land subsidence in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta. Dr. Nguyen Bach Thao (University of Mining and Geology) discussed technical elements that can be examined and implemented in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta, as well as responding to questions from local representatives. Mr. Nguyen Trong Binh (Deputy Head of Scientific Management, Region IV Political Academy) shared about the potential and content of the workshop, he also shared that the workshop brought a lot of valuable information to the community as well as related parties.
Dr. Nguyen Bach Thao, Head of Department of Hydrology Geology, University of Mining and Geology shared technical factors in groundwater resource management and land subsidence.
Mr. Nguyen Trong Binh, Deputy Head of Scientific Management, Region IV Political Academy shared about the potential and content of the workshop
Last but not least, The workshop had the presence and support of reporting from Bac Lieu Newspaper and Ca Mau Newspaper. The presence of local media is a vital step in disseminating information to the community.
As a result of the workshop, several policy recommendations could be found, including:
- The government adopted Decree No. 167 in 2018 to regulate the use of groundwater resources. The Decree places limitations on exploitation in freshwater zones, locations with concentrated water plants, and areas where groundwater extraction has caused subsidence. The Decree, however, does not include precise requirements for saline water zones, which are areas where there is no other source of water. As a result, a huge volume of groundwater is exploited for water use needs, causing land subsidence in coastal districts to be faster and more severe than in other locations.
- Implementing Decree 167, the provinces have zoning to limit the exploitation of groundwater and look for solutions and alternative water sources to serve their needs.
- Resolution 120/NQ-CP and other policies have encouraged regional integration and the sustainable use of groundwater resources at the delta scale, instead of implementing policies that prevent exploitation of the Mekong Delta, which may not be acceptable for the individual conditions of each province.
- Encouraging scientific studies on groundwater recharge as well as more research on the causes and current situation of land subsidence in the Mekong Delta.
- Promoting investigation, assessment, development, and implementation of water storage solutions based on the conditions of each locality in order to minimize the impacts of climate change on drought and saltwater intrusion.
- Implement the zoning of agricultural and fishery products to ensure the suitability with the natural conditions of each locality, and to limit conflicts in water use between farming methods.
- Investing in building a synchronous groundwater monitoring system in the Vietnamese Mekong Delta.
- Proposing to build a water supply plant to treat saltwater and brackish water into a source of clean water for people.
- Building large-capacity freshwater reservoirs in order to promote efficient use of surface water resources and reduce groundwater extraction.
- Establishing a synchronized and complete database system for groundwater and related factors.
- To develop an online platform that allows scientists, policymakers, and other related organizations to effectively communicate with the updated information.
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