HAI DUONG — Untreated waste water from the industrial zones has been discharged into the canal serving as the main sewer gate of Hai Duong City. The water then flows to the Thai Binh River.
Although the canal has been polluted for the past ten years, authorities have yet to find an effective way to solve the problem.
The added pollution in the 3km T2 canal has been coming from factories, enterprises and co-operatives of the Ngo Quyen and Cam Thuong industrial zones. Approximately 65cu.m of waste water is dumped each day.
Vu Van Anh, a resident in Cam Thuong Ward, said, "In the summer the canal smells terrible and on rainy days the sewage overflows to nearby houses."
He also said that since industrial zones began discharging the untreated waste water, the canal's water has turned a blackish colour, is constantly bubbling up and has become very condensed.
Not fit for pigs
"In previous years, the wild water morning glories along the canal were verdant and many people took them for their pigs and chickens, but now no one would dare take these vegetables," Anh said.
Local residents have begged the ward authorities to take action and continue to be told that a water treatment factory is in the works, but nothing has been built.
Aside from the strong stench and poor aesthetics of the canal, residents worry about an even bigger problem: polluted drinking water as the sewer gate is only 300m from the city's main source of clean water, the Cam Thuong Clean Water Manufacture Factory.
Chairman of the Cam Thuong People's Committee Vu Dinh Hung said that his family had personally been affected by the pollution: "Our tap-water often has yellowish dregs."
Hung bought a 500 litre tank to filter water but said the ward had not come up with a viable solution.
In 2007 the committee drafted a request to the city People's Committee and the provincial Department of Environmental Protection to build a sewer system in the Viet Hoa and Cam Thuong wards and prohibit enterprises from discharging the toxic fluids. But the request fell on deaf ears.
Pham Anh Duong, director of the An Phat Plastic Manufacture Company, one of only two enterprises with water treatment systems, said her company invested VND20 million ($1,000) in the system.
"Installing the system was necessary and I decided that in the first few days of the company's founding," she said.
Director of of the provincial Department of Environmental Protection Vu Dinh Hien said most local enterprises had not established these systems because they had not invested in the proper infrastructure.
"We've investigated enterprises who've violated waste discharge regulations but violations are always repeated because punishments are not strict enough," he said.
Violating enterprises were fined up to VND10 million (US$500).
"We cannot raise the fine because it is based on a public regulation," Hien said.
In 2006, the department proposed to the city People's Committee to move the entrance to the sewer away from the clean water plant to avoid polluting the clean water. But, according to Hien, the city lacked appropriate funding for the project, which would require about VND10 billion (US$500,000).
Deputy Chairwoman of the Hai Duong People's Committee Dang Thi Bich Lien agreed with Hien attributing inaction to a lack of funds. — VNS