Increased salinity of ground and surface water in the Mekong delta puts public water supply at risk. The water supply companies in the Mekong Delta currently rely on both ground- and surface water resources. Groundwater extraction contributes to the process of land subsidence, while land subsidence in turn causes salinity levels in both surface and groundwater to increase. The sources are also threatened by high levels of pollution, caused by domestic, industrial and agricultural wastewater.
To ensure water supply to the people living in the Mekong Delta in the future, VEI supports the water supply companies of Hau Giang, Soc Trang and Can Tho in developing long-term resilient water supply plans in which the sustainability of various water resources will explored and the effects of the various options on the current treatment, transmission and distribution schemes investigated. In this way, the project supports the water supply companies to prepare for and absorb future implementation of (sub)regional supply schemes.
In June, together with Can Tho University, VEI organized the first out of three workshops related to long-term resilient water supply plans. The first workshop aimed at creating a sense of urgency of the need to develop these long term plans. The latest findings were presented and discussed, related to the hydrology of the delta, land subsidence, salinization and water demand. The last two weeks, three experts from three different Dutch water operators were in the Mekong Delta to work together with the water supply companies in the Mekong Delta, and prepare the outline of the long-term resilient water supply plan, conduct a water resources analysis and an asset management analysis. At the end of November, a second workshop will be organized, ‘Impacts on Water Supply Regimes’ and early 2020 a third, ‘Exploring interventions and adaptation strategies’. All this leading to four Climate Resilient Water Supply Plans and Climate Resilient Investment Plans.
The sinking Mekong Delta
The project aims to support the water companies in the Mekong Delta in delivering sustainable and resilient water supply services in the context of climate change. Phase 1 of the project runs from 2018-2021 and focuses on developing climate robust investment planning, organisational improvement of the utilities, and network extensions. To overcome challenges such as saline intrusion and soil subsidence, a regional approach for upgrading, expansion and modification of supply schemes is believed to be necessary. The phasing of the program matches with the World Bank financed ‘Mekong Delta Regional Water Security Project’ (MRWSP) in which finance for infrastructure development in the Mekong delta becomes available. The long term involvement of the WaterWorX programme is well suited to support the utilities absorbing the investments made by the MRWSP.
In phase 1, the project targets the water companies in the provinces of Hau Giang, Soc Trang and Can Tho. Depending on the investment planning and needs for technical assistance, other utilities in the Mekong Delta may also join the partnership in phase 2 and 3. The project team will therefore have regular contact with the non partnering water companies, the Ministry of Construction and the World Bank.
Can Tho University – Department of Climate Change is also involved in this partnership, specifically to generate and disseminate understanding about the effects of climate change on the operations of the utilities, and the capacity building and training of staff in climate related subjects.
WaterWorX is a flagship program that brings together 10 Dutch water utilities and 24 (or more) water operators in developing countries to provide 10 million people with sustainable access to clean drinking water through WOPs. Supported by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (DGIS), this programme enables Dutch and local water experts to collaborate in WOP projects, across Asia, Africa and Latin America, over the coming 14 years. WaterWorX aims to increase sustainable access to drinking water to 10 million people, by: 1. Strengthening the financial, technical and social sustainability of the local partner water companies in order to make sustainable drinking water available to millions of people in developing and transition countries. 2. Strengthening the enabling environment of laws & regulations, financing and policies in which water companies are encouraged to function properly and enhance their performance. 3. Increasing access to water infrastructure investment finance, by developing investment proposals and engaging with domestic and international financing organisations and banks.