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China’s lack of cooperation causing problems for Vietnam’s water resources programming

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MARD), the total area of the entire Red-Thai Binh River basin is 169,000 square kilometers, of which 86,700 square kilometers, or 51.3 percent, belong to Vietnam, 81,200 square kilometers (48 percent) to China and 1,100 square kilometers, or 0.65 percent, to Laos.

Tong Ngoc Thanh, director of the National Center for Water Resources Planning and Investigation (NAWAPI), said at a workshop held recently that since China was uncooperative, and that it was difficult for Vietnam to get information for development programming about the water source in the upper course belonging to the Chinese territory.

By VietNamNet Bridge

Red River Delta, Vietnam, August 15, 2016

VietNamNet Bridge

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MARD), the total area of the entire Red-Thai Binh River basin is 169,000 square kilometers, of which 86,700 square kilometers, or 51.3 percent, belong to Vietnam, 81,200 square kilometers (48 percent) to China and 1,100 square kilometers, or 0.65 percent, to Laos.

Tong Ngoc Thanh, director of the National Center for Water Resources Planning and Investigation (NAWAPI), said at a workshop held recently that since China was uncooperative, and that it was difficult for Vietnam to get information for development programming about the water source in the upper course belonging to the Chinese territory.

Meanwhile, in the upper course, China now runs tens of hydropower plants, 1,870 dams and nine reservoirs with total capacity of 200 million cubic meters. These have all caused big changes to the water volume, the current flow regime, water quality and the sediment of the river.

According to Thanh, the water level at the Red River has been decreasing in recent years. The level dropped to 0.1 meters on December 21, 2010, which then caused a waterway transport jam and shortage of water for irrigation. Many fish and aquatic species are facing extinction, while drought occurs regularly, which has led to serious consequences.

Vu Trong Hong, chair of the Vietnam Water Resources Association, noted that there was no cooperation methof for Vietnam and China which says that China has to send information about flood discharge in the upper course.

This is dangerous for Vietnam because the capacity of 2,500 cubic meters per second can cause sevete consequences in the flood season.

Leading experts all said that this was a big challenge for Vietnam, because nearly half of the basin area is located on Chinese territory.

Meanwhile, Vietnam wants to plan water resources to take the initiative in using the Red River’s water for the economic development and daily life.

Dao Trong Tu, the advisor at the Vietnam River Network, said the planning of the Red River water resources was first implemented in the 1960s.

“Vietnam officially asked China to provide documents and asked for assistance from international organizations, but it still cannot obtain documents and figures,” he said.

“China keeps storing water and then discharging water at its convenience, affecting the lower course in Vietnam,” Tu said.

With its high number of hydropower plants, dams and reservoirs, China is estimated to store about 49 percent of the Red River’s water.

Image: VietNamNet Bridge

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