The People's Committee of Ly Son island district in the central province of Quang Ngai has warned residents to stop digging wells in the search for water for farming, Vice Chairwoman of the Committee, Pham Thi Huong told Vietnam News recently.

Huong said some locals had dug up six big wells up to four metres across and 10m deep in an effort to supply watering for their onion farms during the worst drought this year.

"We warned residents in An Hai and An Vinh communes that this could deplete the island's underground water," Huong said.

"We have used a total of 414 traditional wells and 132 drilled wells to provide water for homes and more than 100 hectares of onions and vegetables. But some residents have started to dig wells without permission," she said.

The Vice Chairwoman said the drought had forced the district to reduce areas of onion farm due to a serious lack of water.

"Between April and May, when there is rarely any rain, farmers switched to drought resistant plants, such as maize, beans, sesame and melons," she said, adding that water spraying had been advised to save water.

Ly Son island, 30km off the coast of Quang Ngai province, known as the Kingdom of Garlic, has used 83 percent of its total groundwater reserves during the worst drought in the island's history.

The island's 20,000 cu.m Thoi Loi reservoir has limited water for farming and living, while nearly half of wells used for farming have become saline.

The local administration also advised farmers to buy or make metal or concrete tanks to store water.

The district has also asked the province to build a 100 billion VND (4.8 million USD) desalinisation station.

Ly Son island has 21,000 inhabitants. They make their living from farming garlic and onions - and fishing. The island provides 3,500 tonnes of onions and 2,000 tonnes of garlic each year.-VNA