On October 17, 2023, the second consultation workshop on “Negotiating Groundwater Extraction” was hosted by The Water Agency and partner organizations. This gathering brought together water users, stakeholders, and experts to explore discussions regarding groundwater management, exploitation, and utilization.
The workshop started with the introduction to the project and “Serious Game”. Subsequently, participants were divided into two groups to discuss about water usage, groundwater policies, the implementation of Decree 167, and strategies to mitigate excessive groundwater usage. Additionally, the four farmers from Ben Tre region shared valuable insights into crop tolerance levels regarding salt concentration.
Ben Tre’s landscape has been categorized into three distinct land use zones due to varying surface water conditions: the freshwater-dominated zone, the brackish water-dominated zone, and the saltwater-dominated zone. Water users in these areas primarily rely on rainwater for drinking, surface water for agricultural purposes (such as cultivating vegetables, fruits, and rearing livestock), and groundwater for domestic necessities. Farmers, for instance, utilize brackish water by blending it with freshwater for shrimp farming. However, the quality of surface water is on the decline due to local waste pollution, making it an unsuitable alternative to groundwater.
As a step for implementing Decree 167, a recommendation has been made to restrict issuing new licenses for groundwater exploitation, which poses challenges for water supply companies and industries. Despite the limitations imposed by Decree 167 on the exploitation zones for these industries, the demand for clean water continues to rise.
The lack of implementation of Decree 167 in Ben Tre has resulted in a lack of awareness among community participants. Their concerns primarily revolve around the decreasing water table, with limited knowledge about issues such as land subsidence and the adverse impacts of overexploiting groundwater. Considering these insights, there are plans to develop a model for “Serious Gaming” to facilitate interactive engagement among experts, stakeholders, and communities.