The Water Agency, Can Tho University, Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DONRE), and Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (RARD) collaborated on October 5, 2023, to host a comprehensive workshop addressing “Negotiating Groundwater Extraction.” Various stakeholders, including water users, policymakers, legal executives, and scientists, participated actively to explore groundwater management, exploitation, and usage.
This workshop was structured into two sections. Initially, the consortium partners explained on Decree 167’s implementation, emphasizing prerequisites such as surface water management, the interactions between groundwater exploitation and land subsidence, declining water tables, groundwater quality, and the composition of the Serious Game.
In the subsequent section, attendees were divided into two groups and they shared insights regarding water use, familiarity with groundwater policy and Decree 167. Discussions in this segment revealed Soc Trang’s groundwater as suitable for utilization with easy accessibility, although its usage could lead to a decline in the water table. So considering to rely on surface water has become an option. But relying on surface water as an alternative negatively impacts water quality due to wastewater discharge—an observation supported by governmental staff and water supply companies conducting periodic water quality tests.
Despite regular testing by companies, uncertainties continued about the degradation of groundwater. Many participants lacked a clear understanding of groundwater policies and Decree 167, prompting plans for another workshop by the end of October. This subsequent section aims to provide a comprehensive explanation of Decree 167 to groundwater users, details of which can be found here (link will be embedded).
Participants mainly highlighted their awareness of declining water tables but overlooked critical impacts like land subsidence caused by excessive groundwater use. Companies and industries regularly test groundwater quality but remain uncertain about its degradation. All participants expected support to reduce groundwater use such as access to alternative sources of water, water saving techniques, drought-tolerant crops, cooperative and informative sharing for a better use of water. This workshop will contribute to further steps for the development of a stimulated multi-stakeholders and “Serious Game”.