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Hydropower, irrigation reservoirs in Central Highlands damaging environment

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Many hydropower plants and irrigation reservoirs have been built in the Central Highlands to take full advantage of the mountainous terrain, but they now have had a big impact on the environment, forest and soil. 

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Many water reservoirs  have been built in the Central Highlands 


The Central Highlands is the headwater of rivers flowing into the East Sea, on the central coast. There are plentiful water resources, with four main river systems: Se San, Serepok, Ba and Dong Nai, giving favorable conditions to develop hydraulic power and irrigation.

It is estimated that there are hundreds of small- and medium-sized thermal power projects in the Central Highlands which provide electricity, regulate water supply in dry and flood seasons and generate thousands of jobs to ethnic minorities.

Nevertheless, the massive construction of hydropower plants on large rivers of the Central Highlands has had consequences. Electricity is generated, but forests disappear, while people have to live in constant anxiety about being attacked by floods, flash floods and landslide.

According to Nguyen Ngoc Thong from the Dak Lak provincial Industry and Trade Department, there are 24 hydropower plants in the province with total capacity of 758 MW, of which seven plants have capacity of over 30 MW, 17 others are small and medium sized, with capacity of less than 30 MW.

On Serepok river valley alone, there are 12 hydropower plants with total installation capacity of 841 MW.

The hydropower plants have caused big changes to water flow and led to accidents, including one at Serepok 4A in Buon Don district in 2013-2014, causing serious damage to people’s crops and assets.

Y Phan Nia from the Yok Don National Park Management Board in Dak Lak province led reporters to the Serepok riverbank which runs through the forest’s core area.

“It is now the rainy season. So you can see water in rivers. But in dry season, rivers will be dry to the bottom,” he said.

“This has been seen in recent years. Hydropower plants have blocked the current and taken the national park’s water,” he explained.

Investors, building Serepok 4 and Serepok 4A hydropower plants on the upper course of Serepok River, changed the river’s current. The water now flows in a canal through communes in the east of Buon Don district. 

As a result, the river section, 22 kilometers long, running through the core area of the national park, is in danger of becoming depleted, which would affect flora and fauna.

There are 605 irrigation reservoirs with total capacity of 650 million cubic meters of water. Meanwhile, 95 incurred severe damages as concluded by inspectors from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) on August 22.


Source: VNN

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