Mekong Delta faces increased risk of landslides as sediment loss continues

Last update 07:40 | 17/05/2017

VietNamNet Bridge – Every year, 55 million tons of sediment is lost from the rivers in Mekong Delta, 90 percent of which is sand. 

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Nguyen Huu Thien, an independent expert, said the Mekong Delta has been taking shape for the last 6,000 years thanks to alluvial accretion. But the volume of sediment in the river and canal system has decreased gradually, leading to an increased risk of landslides.

The coastal provinces in the western part of the southern region are also directly affected by the change.

The alluvium from river mouths to the sea has the function of protecting the coast, easing the impact from waves hitting the coast. When there is not enough silt, the sea water will cause erosion.

Therefore, according to Thien, it is necessary to re-establish control over land exploitation to prevent the loss of natural resources.

Every year, 55 million tons of sediment is lost from the rivers in Mekong Delta, 90 percent of which is sand. 

Research also points out the high risks that the Mekong River Delta is facing.

A survey by the Mekong River Commission (MRC) found that in 1992-2014, the amount of suspended sediment in Mekong River valley decreased from 160 million tons to 75 million tons per annum.

According to Marc Goichot, an energy and hydropower expert from WWF, the sediment depletion has relations with sand mining and construction of dams upstream of the Mekong river.

The three upstream water reservoirs in China can retain 32-41 million tons of sediment a year. If all the terraces of eight hydropower dams in the upstream are built, more than 50 percent of sediment load in the Mekong basin, or 140 million tons, will be blocked every year.

Meanwhile, the existing dams in the upstream now retain 35-45 million tons of sediment a year. Once all the dams are built, the figure will be 100 million tons in total.

According to ICEM (International Centre for Environmental Management), every year, the total volume of sludge and sand deposited on the Mekong River section from Kratie Station in Cambodia to Vietnam’s Mekong Delta and to the sea is 12-18 million cubic meters.

Meanwhile, the sand exploitation on Cuu Long River in Vietnam has deprived 28 million cubic meters of sediment the river, too much compared with the volume of 12-18 million tons.

Duong Van Ni from the Environment and Natural Resources Faculty of the Can Tho University, also expressed concern about the sand overexploitation.

“The sand in Mekong Delta needs hundreds of years of depositing to create the base of the riverbed, isles and fresh water containing layers. But the volume of sand drifting to the delta has been decreasing sharply in the last few years,” he warned.

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This entry was posted in Môi trường - Environment, Sông Cửu Long - Mekong river, Sạt lở bờ and tagged , , , , by Trần Đình Hoành. Bookmark the permalink.

About Trần Đình Hoành

I am an attorney in the Washington DC area, with a Doctor of Law in the US, attended the master program at the National School of Administration of Việt Nam, and graduated from Sài Gòn University Law School. I aso studied philosophy at the School of Letters in Sài Gòn. I have worked as an anti-trust attorney for Federal Trade Commission and a litigator for a fortune-100 telecom company in Washington DC. I have taught law courses for legal professionals in Việt Nam and still counsel VN government agencies on legal matters. I have founded and managed businesses for me and my family, both law and non-law. I have published many articles on national newspapers and radio stations in Việt Nam. In 1989 I was one of the founding members of US-VN Trade Council, working to re-establish US-VN relationship. Since the early 90's, I have established and managed VNFORUM and VNBIZ forum on VN-related matters; these forums are the subject of a PhD thesis by Dr. Caroline Valverde at UC-Berkeley and her book Transnationalizing Viet Nam. I translate poetry and my translation of "A Request at Đồng Lộc Cemetery" is now engraved on a stone memorial at Đồng Lộc National Shrine in VN. I study and teach the Bible and Buddhism. In 2009 I founded and still manage dotchuoinon.com on positive thinking and two other blogs on Buddhism. In 2015 a group of friends and I founded website CVD - Conversations on Vietnam Development (cvdvn.net). I study the art of leadership with many friends who are religious, business and government leaders from many countries. In October 2011 Phu Nu Publishing House in Hanoi published my book "Positive Thinking to Change Your Life", in Vietnamese (TƯ DUY TÍCH CỰC Thay Đổi Cuộc Sống). In December 2013 Phu Nu Publishing House published my book "10 Core Values for Success". I practice Jiu Jitsu and Tai Chi for health, and play guitar as a hobby, usually accompanying my wife Trần Lê Túy Phượng, aka singer Linh Phượng.

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