HCM CITY — The water environment's observation system is too outdated to manage the large river systems and the rapid pace of development in the country.
|The Day River in My Hung Commune in Thanh Oai District in Ha Noi is polluted by waste from industrial zones. Insufficient water quality monitoring and data makes it difficult to stop the degradation of rivers and streams in Viet Nam. — VNA/VNS Photo Xuan Truong
Viet Nam has a dense system of rivers and streams, which makes up 2 per cent of the total river flow in the world. The country's 13 biggest river systems have a total area of more than 10,000sq.km.
They are being threatened by pollution caused by industrialisation and urban and rural development.
The observation systems are so outdated and ineffective that sufficient collection of information for forecasting and management cannot be done.
Without proper data, it is difficult to stop the degradation of rivers and streams.
In Viet Nam, there are only four centres that observe and analyse surface water on the mainland.
Three centres that observe radioactivity in 287 water monitor stations in 18 provinces and cities. They conduct observations four to six times a year.
In addition, five centres analyse 132 sea water monitor stations, which conduct observations four times a year.
Given the large number of rivers that exist in the country, more centres as well as more frequent observations are needed, according to experts.
Most of the main rivers, including Hong (Red) in Ha Noi, Cam in northern Hai Phong, Lam in central Nghe An Province, Huong in central Hue City, Han in central Da Nang City, Sai Gon in HCM City, Tien and Hau in southern Tien Giang Province, and Hau in southern Can Tho Province have pollution concentration exceeding the permitted level by 1.5 to three times. The lower streams of Cau, Nhue, Day and Dong Nai rivers are the most polluted.
Most of the rivers, lakes and canals inside the cities and urban areas have serious levels of organic pollution concentration, exceeding the permitted level by two to six times.
The pollution in brackish water has also been increasing, with the content of oil in water in Bai Chay area in northern Quang Ninh Province and the central coastal area reaching an alarming level.
Agricultural and industrial activities, occupational villages, aquaculture, seafood processing and waste water from daily activities have all been blamed for causing pollution in rivers nation-wide.
The water environment's observation system is an important factor in controlling pollution and minimising pollutant sources, but the country's system lags far behind its function for the necessary tasks.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has drawn up national technical standards on managing surface water, underground water, coastal water, daily waste water and industrial water.
However, the current observation system has a long way to go before it can meet the requirements of observing and analysing water quality nation-wide.
It is far behind the national goals set by the government in 2007 to have 42 national semi-automatic environmental observation centres by 2020. — VNS