The Dau Tieng Resevoir in Tay Ninh province (Source: VNA)
HCM City (VNA) - HCM City will face its most severe drought in six decades over the next few months, the weather office has forecast, warning there will be a severe shortage of water for irrigation and saltwater intrusion up its rivers.

The drought lasting from January to April will directly affect millions of people, it said.

Le Thi Xuan Lan of the Southern Regional Hydro Meteorological Forecast Centre said the city will be one of many places in the south to be parched due to a 30- 40 percent deficiency in rainfall in 2015, when the rainy season began late but finished early.

A little bit of unseasonable rain was not enough to make up for the shortage, he said.

According to statistics from the city Department of Agriculture and Rural Development's Bureau of Irrigation and Flood and Storm Prevention, salinity in Nha Be district in December was 32 percent higher than a year earlier and 80 percent higher than the average a few years ago.

"From now until Tet (Lunar New Year), there will be two very high tides, which will make the saltwater intrude deeper," Nguyen Xuan Hoang, deputy head of the bureau, was quoted as saying by Nguoi Lao Dong (Labourer) newspaper.

While Bui Xuan Dai, Deputy Director of Dau Tieng Irrigation Exploitation Company, said localities downstream of the reservoir - on the man-made Dau Tieng lake in Tay Ninh province north-west of HCM City - are expected to face a severe water shortage due to the El Nino affect.

This year the highest water level in the lake has been only 23 metre, 1.4 metres lower than usual, which translates into a shortage of 300 million cubic metres.

Dai said the shortage would have been much worse if water from the Phuoc Hoa reservoir had not been released into the lake. The water, originally meant to be supplied elsewhere, is flowing in at a rate of 50 cu.m per second.

Bach Vu Hai, Deputy General Director of the Saigon Water Company (SAWACO), said the company will co-ordinate with the Dau Tieng Irrigation Exploitation Company to release freshwater from the lake to push the saltwater back towards the sea.

The company along with the Tay Ninh Irrigation Service Company and the HCM City administration have envisaged various drought scenarios to come up with solutions.-VNA