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Saigon Is Sinking...Fast

Saigon's already low-lying land is sinking at an unprecedented rate.

According to data released by the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DNRE) on February 25, as many as 7,200 hectares of municipal land are sinking, reports the Saigon Times.

In 2015, roughly 20 areas in the city sank by an average of 15 millimeters, with one such area sinking approximately 28 millimeters. These fast-sinking areas include parts of Districts 8 and 12 as well as Binh Thanh, Binh Chanh, Nha Be and Hoc Mon Districts.

An additional 40 areas are also sinking, albeit at less than 15 millimeters per year.

Over the past few years, city officials have been grappling with solutions to this problem. Scientists attribute the dilemma to Saigon's ever-increasing urbanization as well as overexploitation of the city's groundwater. In 2013, the DNRE counted over than 200,000 wells in HCMC extracting more than 1 billion liters of groundwater daily.

According to Thanh Nien, there were only 96,000 wells in the city in 1999. By 2013, that number had soared.

“There are more than 100,000 additional wells now and alarming overexploitation of groundwater. Groundwater is declining, leading to the sinking of the surface,” Van Truong, former director of the Southern Institute for Water Resources Planning told the news outlet.

Compared to government statistics from 1996-2012, the 2015 data presents some notable changes, including the introduction of Nha Be and Binh Chanh Districts onto the list of fast-sinking areas. While sinking in Districts 5, 10, 11 and Tan Binh has slowed, Districts 8, 12 and Binh Chanh continue to be affected by this problem.

As a result of these findings, municipal officials are pushing for a deeper analysis of the issues surrounding Saigon's sinking land, particularly the impact of large scale infrastructure and development projects.

[Photo via Dan Tri]

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