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Reservoirs opened for drought-hit farmers

HA NOI — Power companies in northern Viet Nam have agreed to release valuable water from storage reservoirs to help farmers overcome severe drought.

Chau Giang Irrigation Construction Company pumps water from Dien Bien River to serve production in northern Hung Yen Province. Power companies in the northern region have agreed to release water from reservoirs to help farmers overcome severe drought.— VNA/VNS Photo Dinh Hue

Deputy general director of Electricity of Viet Nam (EVN) Dang Hoang An said on Monday afternoon that the company had complied with a request from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to make two releases of water from its reservoirs at the end of this month and in February to save crops.

Deputy director of MARD's Irrigation Department Dang Duy Hien said that the survival of two-thirds of the rice crop under plantation in the north and north centre of the nation depended on water from the reservoirs.

Hien said that local farmers would have to give top priority to receiving "these golden water releases" even though the first one ended on New Year's Eve [Lunar New Year]".

About 2.7 billion cu.m of water, equivalent to 500 million kWh of electricity, from Hoa Binh, Thac Ba and Tuyen Quang electricity reservoirs, the biggest in the north, will be used to irrigate more than 635,000ha of crops.

This is much less than previous years. In early 2010, for instance, about 3.2 billion cubic metres of water was released for farming.

An EVN deputy general director, said the shortage of water in the north and north-central Viet Nam made it difficult for both agriculture and electricity to maintain operations.

An said after the two releases, the water level in the three major electricity reservoirs would be so low, therefore, no further releases could be made until rains topped them up again.

Hien said that reservoirs used solely for irrigation were also facing a severe shortage of water.

Therefore, local farmers must make good use of the two releases from reservoirs built to provide power, he said.

The National Centre for Hydro-meteorology Forecasting said water levels in the main northern reservoirs were now lower than average as the region had almost no rain since last October. No further rains are expected until the end of April.

Meanwhile, EVN has said it is committed to ensuring a Tet without blackouts despite the difficulties the company is facing due to the drought. More than one-third of power production in Viet Nam is hydro-power.

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