Hydropower plants deplete Da Nang tap-water sources

Da Nang, which has some of the most advanced infrastructure in the country, has been facing a serious water shortage since mid-August, a highly unusual situation for the city.

The water level on Cam Le River in the Cau Do area of Da Nang, the lower course of the Vu Gia River, has dropped dramatically since mid-August. This has forced the Cau Do Water Supply Plant to lower its capacity, thus leaving Da Nang short of water.                                      

The hydropower plants on the Vu Gia River’s upper course have been storing water for electricity generation, and the plants are blocking the stream, leaving millions of people short of water.

In mid-August, the city experienced, for the first time in 10 years, an unstable supply of tap water supply.

Da Nang is noted for having the best water supply system with strong water pressure. However, now supply is unstable, and residents in Son Tra and Ngu Hanh Son districts sometimes suffer water cuts.

Nguyen Truong Anh, director of Dawaco, the city’s water supply company, said the water pressure had become weaker water from the Cau Do Water Plant had 12,000 mg of salt per liter, much higher than the permitted level of 250 mg per liter.

Anh said this is the highest salinity level he has ever seen. In previous years, the figures were from 7,000-8,000 mg per liter.

Anh said that on August 12-20, the water level on Vu Gia River in the Ai Nghia area fell to 2.1-2.5 meters, as the hydropower plants blocked Vu Gia’s stream.

The Song Bung 4 hydropower plant was reportedly storing water at that time, and the A Vuong hydropower plant was not operating. As a result, there was no water for the lowland areas.

The salinity of the water at the Cau Do water-receiving gate hovered around 3,000-5,000 mg per liter, sometimes reaching 11,727 mg per liter.

Dawaco then decided to close all the water-receiving gates in Cau Do and use the raw water from An Trach dam. However, the water level at An Trach was lower than usual.

Since the water supply plant did not have enough raw water to process, the volume of clean water provided to Da Nang City’s supply system decreased by 30,000-40,000 cubic meters per day.

Huynh Van Thang, deputy director of the Da Nang Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, said his department had asked the city’s people’s committee to work with the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MOIT) and the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment (MONRE) to reclaim water for the lowlands.

The A Vuong and Dak Mi 4 Hydropower Plants were also asked to discharge water immediately to improve water output. However, Thang said the situation had not improved as of the end of August.

Thang said that Da Nang residents, who are upset about the water shortage, will face flooding in one month, when the rainy seasons begins.

By that time, they will sustain not only “floods sent by God” but also floods sent by the hydropower plants when they discharge water.

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