The central region includes 14 provinces and cities from the north-central province of Thanh Hoa to the south-central province of Binh Thuan, while the Central Highlands area consists of five provinces including Kon Tum, Gia Lai, Dak Lak, Dak Nong and Lam Dong.

Given the effect of the El Niño weather pattern this year, the flow of water to lakes and reservoirs in the central region and the Central Highlands will keep declining sharply, the ministry said in the report, citing forecasts from the National Center for Hydro-Meteorological Forecasting.

El Niño is a disruption of the ocean-atmosphere system in the Tropical Pacific having important consequences for weather and climate around the globe, according to National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under the U.S. Department of Commerce.

The central region suffered a severe drought last year with no flooding in most of the river basins during the flood season, according to the Vietnamese Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The El Nino phenomenon that arose last year has caused severe drought, leading to many reservoirs not having enough water to supply to downstream during the dry season this year, the ministry said.

Many big reservoirs in the region like A Vuong, Song Bung 4, Ba Ha, Kanak, and Se San are short of over 500 million m³ of water to reach their required minimum level.

Hoang Van Bay, director of the Department of Water Resources under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, said that the ministry has asked local authorities to take urgent measures to address the issue.

Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Nguyen Thai Lai has recommended the authorities of Quang Nam, Gia Lai, Kon Tum, Phu Yen and Da Nang closely monitor climatic changes and the flow of water from and to the lakes and reservoirs in those localities to discharge water in a proactively and timely manner.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has agreed with the Ministry of Industry and Trade and its power generation arm, the Vietnam Electricity (EVN), on adjusting the flow of water from the reservoirs of EVN hydropower plants to ensure the balance of water resources by the end of the dry season in 2016.

Tuoi Tre News - January 3, 2016