HANOI, Vietnam, March 2 (UPI) -- Vietnam, hit by drought, faces a severe nationwide water shortage that threatens agriculture and tap water quality, the government said.
The department of electricity and the agriculture ministry said three of the biggest reservoirs in the north, which supply water needed to irrigate crops, were nearly empty, even though less of their water was used than in previous years, the Vietnam News reported Wednesday.
The report said in the central region of the country, water levels were alarmingly low in major rivers. Stretches of the Tra Khuc and Ve rivers in Quang Ngai Province were completely dry, it said.
In Ho Chi Minh City and the Mekong Delta region, the drought has led to intrusion of salt water which has damaged crops and added salinity to tap water, the report said.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has begun drafting regulations governing minimum water levels in rivers and discharges from reservoirs during the dry season.
Koos Neefjes, policy adviser on climate change at the U.N. Development Program, was quoted as saying water shortage is now a fact of life.
"The whole system has to understand that droughts will become more frequent and will only get worse," he said, while warning Vietnam that more efficient use of water resources is "more urgent than ever."
Vietnamese officials say the country, contrary to popular notions, does not have abundant water resources and the resources it has are not evenly distributed across the country.
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