HCM CITY — Sitting in front of her house near the Tau Hu-Ben Nghe canal, Nguyen Thi Thom remembers when the canal stank horribly and was bordered with makeshift houses.
|Workers dredge mud from the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe canal in HCM City. The clean-up of the canal has helped the city fight pollution in seven of its districts. — VNA/VNS Photo Manh Linh
Her family has lived near Cau Kieu Bridge which spans the Tau Hu-Ben Nghe canal in Phu Nhuan District for nearly 40 years.
"During the time, I have seen countless changes but the life of people here only really changed when the city's water environmental improvement projects began," she said.
"In the past, I noticed that no species could live in the putrid water of Tau Hu – Ben Nghe Canal, but now my family members and neighbours have a peaceful life here, thanks to the project."
Thom as well as thousands of other households that live along the Tau Hu – Ben Nghe and Nhieu Loc – Thi Nghe canals benefited a great deal from the environmental sanitation projects.
The city's two major canals, the Tau Hu-Ben Nghe and Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe, run through 10 inner-city districts including Districts 1, 4, 5, 6 and Phu Nhuan.
Over the last 37 years, the city government has made great efforts to improve canals in the city.
Currently, the city is implementing a water environment improvement project and an urban environmental sanitation project.
Although the projects are not finished, they have made important contributions to reducing street flooding, improving traffic and public health as well as the quality of life in the city.
Wastewater has been collected and treated from nearly three million households in districts of 1, 3, 4, 6, 8, 10, 11, Phu Nhuan, Tan Binh, Binh Thanh, Go Vap and Binh Chanh.
Luong Minh Phuc, head of the managing board of the Water Environment Improvement Project, said the project's first phase had been completed.
The Binh Hung wastewater treatment plant was built with a capacity of 141,000 cubic metres per day.
Equipment was installed to collect wastewater from households living near the Tau Hu-Ben Nghe Canal's basin and to transfer water to the Binh Hung wastewater treatment plant in Binh Chanh District.
"The water discharged into the Tau Hu-Nhieu Loc Canal now contains rainwater and treated water. The canal's bed was also dredged," Phuc said.
The Water Environment Improvement Project is supported by the Japanese Government with a total ODA loan of US$235.7 million through the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC).
Work on the Environmental Sanitation Project in the basin of the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Canal officially began in 2003, also helping the city fight flooding woes and environmental pollution stretching over 33 square kilometres in seven districts.
The Nhieu Loc – Thi Nghe basin is home to about 1.2 million people. The area's canal is also heavily polluted by untreated wastewater from an aged sewer system inadequate to serve the rapidly growing population.
To meet the city's goal of becoming a modern economic hub for Viet Nam, wastewater flows needed to be removed from the basin and canal.
The Environmental Sanitation Project includes a massive 800,000 cubic metres per-day wastewater pumping station, as well as wastewater, drainage and solid waste components. It also treats the water to improve its quality.
Phan Chau Thuan, deputy head of the managing board of the Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Environmental Sanitation Project, said: "The Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe in the near future will be a green canal because wastewater in the canal will be collected and treated at a wastewater treatment plant that is expected to built in District 2."
The first phase of the project, expected to be done by the end of June, has cost about $317 million, including $294 million from Official Development Assistance funds and local counter-capital of nearly $23 million.
City authorities have recently worked with related agencies and the project's managing board to consider the design of land that borders the Hoang Sa and Truong Sa roads, which run along the canal.
"Although the project is not complete, the work done thus far has helped to improve the city's image as well as the living conditions of residents," Thuan said. — VNS