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 Ben Tre, Soc Trang, and Tra Vinh on December 10th, 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.
Dr. Dinh Diep Anh Tuan, Chief of Office, 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. Nguyen Dinh Giang Nam, Head of Water Resources Department, College of Environment and Natural Resources, Can Tho University, discussed technical issues and groundwater resource management.
Dr. Dinh Diep Anh Tuan - Chief of Office, DRAGON-Mekong Institute, shared about "Climate adapt to resilience: Water supply in the Mekong Delta”
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.
Mr. Ung Van Dang - Head of Water Resources - Minerals Department, Soc Trang Province’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment spoke about groundwater resources and local land subsidence issues.
Mr. Le Quang Rang - Deputy Director of Tra Vinh Province’s Department of Agriculture and Rural Development spoke about groundwater resources and local land subsidence issues.
The websites of the Mekong Delta Climate Change and Environmental Protection Network (MekongNet) and the project are regularly updated, providing a platform for experts to exchange and connect with the community, local politicians, scientists, companies in the Delta with similar interests, a Community of Interest (CoI), and a Community of Practice (CoP).
The webinar introduced the online platforms for the experts networking with the community, local politicians, scientists, and companies in the Mekong Delta.
As a result of the workshop, several policy recommendations could be found, including:
- The government has issued Decree No. 167/2018 on restricting groundwater extraction and enhancing effective groundwater usage, followed by other relevant documents. However, there is a lack of specific solutions for coastal areas in terms of using effective surface water resources; groundwater still plays a major source for various activities. To deal with these problems, numerous stakeholders must collaborate to build delta-scale solutions.
- To limit groundwater extraction, surface water resource usage should be encouraged. Numerous technological, economic, and political initiatives should be implemented in accordance with specific planning from the government. Groundwater extraction shall be limited in places along the Mekong and Bassac rivers, large canals (with a channel width greater than 100 meters), and areas with sufficient surface water in terms of quality for household, agricultural, and industrial use.
- To encourage and broaden the scope of groundwater recharge research, as well as the application of research findings in practice.
- The term "land subsidence" should be incorporated in legal papers, and the authorities in charge of this subject should be identified.
- To consider appropriate artificial groundwater recharge options, such as injection of rainwater runoff through bore wells into aquifers for later recovery.
- To build large-scale groundwater extraction stations with adequate capacity, prohibiting indiscriminate exploitation, and managing water supply system efficiently.
- To build freshwater reservoirs in natural floodplains (Long Xuyen Quadrangle and Dong Thap Muoi), as well as make use of existing natural rivers that are no longer functioning for water traffic, to ensure surface water supply and reduce the need for groundwater extraction.
- To plan the drain system, the dyke (estuarine dyke, sea dyke) and improve their synchronization, to effectively manage freshwater resources and control salinity.
- To reduce the need for groundwater extraction for irrigation, manage the cropping methodology and choose crops that are compatible with seasonal water reserves.
- Consideration should be given to subsidence monitoring systems, which could be combined with remote sensing techniques to estimate the subsidence level, from which more effective plans for each area might be devised.
- To develop an online platform that allows scientists, policymakers, and other related organizations to effectively communicate with the update information.