Groundwater in the Mekong River Basin

3.11. Vietnam

• Salinization of groundwater in the coastal area

• Ammonium contamination in groundwater

• Groundwater level drops in Hanoi (-1 m/yr, total 30 m drop), Ho Chi Minh City (total 30 m), and in many other places in the Mekong River Basin; groundwater levels also decreased greatly.

• Land subsidence in Hanoi because of over-extraction

• High and increasing amount of arsenic in groundwater

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The Mekong river under THREAT

Milton Osborne

Even if no dams are built on the mainstream below China, the cascade to which it is committed will ultimately have serious effects on the functioning of the Mekong once the dams are used to control the river’s flow. This will be the case because the cascade will:

• alter the hydrology of the river and so the current ‘flood pulse’, the regular rise and fall of the river on an annual basis which plays an essential part in the timing of spawning and the migration pattern. This will be particularly important in relation to the Tonle Sap in Cambodia, but will have an effect throughout the river’s course;

• block the flow of sediment down the river which plays a vital part both in depositing nutrients on the agricultural regions flooded by the river and also as a trigger for fish migration — at present well over 50% of the river’s sediment comes from China;

• at least initially cause problems by restricting the amount of flooding that takes place most importantly in Cambodia and Vietnam; and

• lead to the erosion of river banks.

So China’s dam-building plans are worrying enough, but the proposed new mainstream dams would pose even more serious concerns. Those built at sites higher upstream would cause the least damage to fish stocks, but if, as currently seems possible, the most likely dams to be built would be at Don Sahong and Sambor the costs to fish stocks could be very serious. This is because unanimous expert opinion judges that there are no ways to mitigate the blocking of fish migration that would occur if these dams are constructed. None of the suggested possible forms of mitigation — fish ladders, fish lifts, and alternative fish-passages — are feasible for the species of fish in the Mekong and the very large biomass that is involved in their migratory pattern. Fish ladders were tried and failed at the Pak Mun dam on one of the Mekong’s tributaries in Thailand in the 1990s. Continue reading “The Mekong river under THREAT”

Impacts of 25 years of groundwater extraction on subsidence in the Mekong delta, Vietnam


Many major river deltas in the world are subsiding and consequently become increasingly vulnerable to flooding and storm surges, salinization and permanent inundation. For the Mekong Delta, annual subsidence rates up to several centimetres have been reported. Excessive groundwater extraction is suggested as the main driver. As groundwater levels drop, subsidence is induced through aquifer compaction. Over the past 25 years, groundwater exploitation has increased dramatically, transforming the delta from an almost undisturbed hydrogeological state to a situation with increasing aquifer depletion. Yet the exact contribution of groundwater exploitation to subsidence in the Mekong delta has remained unknown. In this study we deployed a delta-wide modelling approach, comprising a 3D hydrogeological model with an integrated subsidence module. This provides a quantitative spatially-explicit assessment of groundwater extraction-induced subsidence for the entire Mekong delta since the start of widespread overexploitation of the groundwater reserves. We find that subsidence related to groundwater extraction has gradually increased in the past decades with highest sinking rates at present. During the past 25 years, the delta sank on average ~18 cm as a consequence of groundwater withdrawal. Current average subsidence rates due to groundwater extraction in our best estimate model amount to 1.1 cm yr−1, with areas subsiding over 2.5 cm yr−1, outpacing global sea level rise almost by an order of magnitude. Given the increasing trends in groundwater demand in the delta, the current rates are likely to increase in the near future.

Read full article here

Climate change is triggering a migrant crisis in Vietnam


The Vietnamese Mekong Delta is one of Earth’s most agriculturally productive regions and is of global importance for its exports of rice, shrimp, and fruit. The 18m inhabitants of this low-lying river delta are also some of the world’s most vulnerable to climate change. Over the last ten years around 1.7m people have migrated out of its vast expanse of fields, rivers and canals while only 700,000 have arrived.

On a global level migration to urban areas remains as high as ever: one person in every 200 moves from rural areas to the city every year. Against this backdrop it is difficult to attribute migration to individual causes, not least because it can be challenging to find people who have left a region in order to ask why they went and because every local context is unique. But the high net rate of migration away from Mekong Delta provinces is more than double the national average, and even higher in its most climate-vulnerable areas. This implies that there is something else – probably climate-related – going on here. Continue reading “Climate change is triggering a migrant crisis in Vietnam”

Multiple Mekong forums risk igniting rivalry

ASEAN+ January 03, 2018 01:00


LEADERS FROM six riparian states along the Mekong River will be busy this year as meetings on many cooperation schemes in the region are scheduled in a situaton that observers have said is overlapping.

 The youngest forum, the Lancang-Mekong Cooperation (LMC), will call its second summit meeting next Wednesday in Phnom Penh to endorse a five-year action plan (2018-2022) regarding its cooperation projects.

Its participants – six counties in the Mekong basin comprising China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam – have all been involved in many cooperation schemes over the past decades.
Continue reading “Multiple Mekong forums risk igniting rivalry”

Muddying the Mekong: balancing sediment and sustainable development

By Thanapon Piman Bangkok, Thailand, December 20, 2017

Stockholm Environemnt Institute

mekongeye_Muddy river waters are often seen as a sure sign of poor river health, as a result of inappropriate land management practices, or a consequence of extreme rainfall where great quantities of sediment – silt, sand, clay and organic matter – are discharged.

This is a common sight in the major rivers of south-east and east Asia, and has come to characterise rivers such as the Yellow and the Mekong. With its beginnings on the Tibetan Plateau, the Mekong flows for 4,300 kilometres, carrying an estimated sediment load of 160 million tonnes before reaching its delta and discharging into the South China Sea. Continue reading “Muddying the Mekong: balancing sediment and sustainable development”

Mẹ thiên nhiên và huỷ diệt bởi thủy điện không phải là vấn đề duy nhất của Đồng Bằng Sông Cửu Long

Không có khu vực đồng bằng nào trên thế giới bị đe doạ bởi biến đổi khí hậu trầm trọng như Sông Cửu Long. Liệu Việt Nam có hành động kịp thời để cứu nơi đây?

Loạt bài của Mongabay – Mongabay series

Tiếng Việt
Phần 1 – Liệu biến đổi khí hậu sẽ nhấn chìm Đồng bằng sông Cửu Long?
Phần 2 – Việt Nam cực kỳ lo lắng vì Trung Quốc và Lào xây đập trên Mekong
Phần 3 – Mẹ Thiên nhiên và huỷ diệt bởi thủy điện không phải là vấn đề duy nhất của Đồng bằng sông Cửu Long
Phần 4 – Kế hoạch cứu nguy Đồng bằng sông Cửu Long

Part 1 – Will climate change sink the Mekong Delta?
Part 2 – Vietnam sweats bullets as China and Laos dam the Mekong
Part 3 – Mother Nature and a hydropower onslaught aren’t the Mekong Delta’s only problems
Part 4 – A plan to save the Mekong Delta

Biến đổi khí hậu và các đập nước ở thượng nguồn đang đe dọa khu vực quan trọng này và vấn đề trở nên khó kiểm soát được. Nhưng có phải những vấn đề lớn nhất của ĐBSCL đều do chính Việt Nam tạo ra?

Đồng bằng sông Cửu Long của Việt Nam, nơi ở của gần 20 triệu người, là một trong những môi trường nông nghiệp có năng suất cao nhất trên thế giới, nhờ vào mạng lưới kênh rạch, đê, cửa cống và rãnh thoát nước phức tạp.

Về thế mạnh nông nghiệp của ĐBSCL, Việt Nam đã đi từ một nhà nhập khẩu gạo lâu năm và trở thành một nước xuất khẩu lớn. Tuy nhiên, nông dân trong khu vực rất quan tâm đến các chính sách an ninh lương thực của chính phủ, trong đó yêu cầu hầu hết đất đai của ĐBSCL phải được dành cho sản xuất lúa gạo. Và nhiều người trong số họ đang có biện pháp để phá vỡ các quy tắc, theo những cách mà không phải lúc nào cũng thân thiện với môi trường.
Continue reading “Mẹ thiên nhiên và huỷ diệt bởi thủy điện không phải là vấn đề duy nhất của Đồng Bằng Sông Cửu Long”

Only a fundamental mindset shift can save the Mekong Delta: expert

Last update 11:10 | 16/12/2017

VietNamNet Bridge – Well-meant but misguided climate change interventions in the Mekong Delta are set to do more harm than good, and only a change in policymakers’ mindset can reverse the damage, an independent researcher and expert said on December 14.

Mekong Delta, save, solar energy, Vietnam economy, Vietnamnet bridge, English news about Vietnam, Vietnam news, news about Vietnam, English news, Vietnamnet news, latest news on Vietnam, Vietnam
Nguyen Huu Thien (standing), expert on Mekong Delta ecology, responds to questions at a workshop on the region’s water and energy needs held on December 14 in Hanoi. — VNA/VNS Photo Trong Kien

The change in mindset would involve a shift from forceful interventions to embracing natural cycles, said Nguyen Huu Thien.

Thien, whose work focuses on the Mekong Delta’s ecology, was giving his assessment of Resolution No 120 on sustainable development for the Mekong Delta that Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc signed in November. Continue reading “Only a fundamental mindset shift can save the Mekong Delta: expert”

Nghị quyết về Phát triển bền vững ĐBSCL thích ứng với Biến đổi khí hậu – Số 120/NQ-CP


Độc lập – Tự do – Hạnh phúc

Số: 120/NQ-CP

Hà Nội, ngày 17 tháng 11 năm 2017





Căn cứ Luật Tổ chức Chính phủ ngày 19 tháng 6 năm 2015;

Căn cứ Nghị quyết số 24-NQ/TW ngày 03 tháng 6 năm 2013 của Ban Chấp hành Trung ương Đảng khóa XI về chủ động ứng phó với biến đổi khí hậu, tăng cường quản lý tài nguyên và bảo vệ môi trường;

Căn cứ Kết luận số 28-KL/TW ngày 14 tháng 8 năm 2012 của Bộ Chính trị về phương hướng, nhiệm vụ, giải pháp phát triển kinh tế – xã hội và bảo đảm an ninh, quốc phòng vùng đồng bằng sông Cửu Long đến năm 2020;

Trên cơ sở kết quả của Hội nghị về phát triển bền vững đồng bằng sông Cửu Long thích ứng với biến đổi khí hậu ngày 26 – 27 tháng 9 năm 2017; thảo luận, biểu quyết của các Thành viên Chính phủ tại phiên họp Chính phủ thường kỳ tháng 9 năm 2017,


Continue reading “Nghị quyết về Phát triển bền vững ĐBSCL thích ứng với Biến đổi khí hậu – Số 120/NQ-CP”

Resolution aims for sustainable Mekong Delta development – Nghị quyết về phát triển bền vững Đồng bằng sông Cửu Long thích ứng với biến đổi khí hậu


Viet Nam News Update: November, 20/2017 – 10:01

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has signed a resolution to sustainably develop the Mekong Delta as apart of an effort to cope with climate change. — Photo tinmoitruong

HCM City – Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has signed a resolution to sustainably develop the Mekong Delta as apart of an effort to cope with climate change.

The resolution points out that the Mekong Delta accounts for 12 per cent of the national area and 19 per cent of population, contributes 50 per cent of the rice crop, 65 per cent of aquaculture, 70 per cent of fruit, 95 per cent of exported rice and 60 per cent of exported fish. Continue reading “Resolution aims for sustainable Mekong Delta development – Nghị quyết về phát triển bền vững Đồng bằng sông Cửu Long thích ứng với biến đổi khí hậu”

Mekong River Facts


Upstream Mekong River changes through dam building and water usage could have serious consequences on downstream environments, in particular the Mekong Delta of Vietnam. Considered the rice basket of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta is already at grave risk through climate change sea level rise and intense local development. Mekong Delta citizens are concerned about these risks but and are determined to adapt and survive.

The Mekong has many names.


In China, it is known as the Lancang Jiang, meaning ‘turbulent river’. The Thai and the Lao refer to it as Mae Kong or Mae Nam Kong, meaning ‘mother water’. In the delta, where the river splits into multiple branches, the Vietnamese refer to it as Cuu Long, meaning ‘nine dragons’. Continue reading “Mekong River Facts”

Using Remote Sensing to Map Rice Paddy Drop in the Mekong Delta

Gislounge_The Mekong River Delta is an important water source flowing through South East Asia. Primarily feeding the rice fields of Vietnam, the Mekong River Delta has long been an area of great fertility due to water flow and silt build up. However, agricultural efforts in the area have shown a decline in production because of the weather effects of El Niño. This year’s El Niño has been particularly strong, causing droughts in South East Asia.

Satellites including Europe’s Sentinel-1A can now track the rise and fall of different agricultural products around the world. The satellite’s imagery showed that rice production in the Mekong Delta has decreased in the past year, threatening the livelihoods of local farmers as well as food security worldwide. Continue reading “Using Remote Sensing to Map Rice Paddy Drop in the Mekong Delta”

PM approves climate change, green growth programme

Update: November, 03/2017 – 10:30 vietnamnews

Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has green lighted the target programme to cope with climate change and promote green growth during 2016-20. — Photo VGP

HÀ NỘI — Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc has green lighted the target programme to cope with climate change and promote green growth during 2016-20.

The programme is designed to improve local residents’ abilities to adapt to climate change, boost green growth and transition towards a low-carbon economy. Continue reading “PM approves climate change, green growth programme”

Farmers shift to more resilient crops in the Delta

Update: November, 05/2017 – 09:00 vietnamnews
Wrapped fruit: Bùi Văn Buôn checks on the tứ quý mangoes in his garden in Bến Tre Province. — VNS Photo Hoàng Nguyên

Viet Nam News Beset by climate change impacts, Mekong Delta farmers give up on rice, but the real answer lies in organic farming, experts aver.

By Hoàng Nguyên

MEKONG DELTA – When Bùi Văn Muôn decided to grow tứ quý mango trees 16 years ago, he did not expect the fruit would become a key agricultural crop cultivated to adapt to climate change.

“Back then, when I asked neighbours to buy and plant tứ quý mango trees here, they showed little interest as the fruit tasted a bit sour and they thought it might not fetch good prices in the market,” the 50-year-old farmer in Bến Tre Province recalled. Continue reading “Farmers shift to more resilient crops in the Delta”

China’s Mekong Plans Threaten Disaster for Countries Downstream


Beijing is building hydroelectric dams and dredging to allow bigger boats as worries of environmental devastation grow.

BANGKOK — Thirty million people depend for a living on the Mekong, the great Asian river that runs through Southeast Asia from its origins in the snowfields of Tibet to its end in the delta region of Vietnam, where it fertilizes one of the world’s richest agricultural areas. It’s the greatest freshwater fishery on the planet, second only to the Amazon in its riparian biodiversity. If you control its waters, then you control much of the economy of Southeast Asia. Continue reading “China’s Mekong Plans Threaten Disaster for Countries Downstream”