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VietNamNews

Running dry

Update: December, 17/2012 - 10:16

 

Ethnic minority residents receive clean water in Lo Ku Commune, K'Bang District, Gia Lai Province. Viet Nam is facing a growing risk of depletion and pollution of water resources. — VNA/VNS Photo Sy Huynh
HA NOI (VNS) — The nation's water resources are in danger of depletion and rising pollution levels, a problem with a potential for significant detrimental effects on socio-economic development, water resource experts said at a workshop on Thursday.

According to the report entitled National Strategy for Environmental Protection, Viet Nam now has around 840 billion cu.m of surface water, up to 60 per cent of which originates in foreign countries upstream.

In the south, the Cuu Long (Mekong) River system enters the country from Cambodia, Thailand and Laos, while the north's major river system, the Hong (Red) River, originates in China. Upstream countries compete for these surface water supplies, the report said.

Industrial discharges were also a serious source of pollution of surface water in such river systems as the Nhue-Day, Cau, and Dong Nai, the report said, noting that saltwater incursion was also significantly affecting over-exploited groundwater supplies in the nation's southern region.

Climate change added an additional, unpredictable factor to a reduction in water supplies.

The nation's soaring population, predicted to reach 98 million by the year 2020, and growing industrial activity are expected to place ever-increasing demands on finite surface water and groundwater resources, said Dao Trong Tu, a representative of the Global Water Partnership of Southeast Asia (GWP-SEA).

"It's imperative to quickly begin more integrated water resources management practices," Tu said.

GWP-SEA defines integrated water resources management is a process which promotes co-ordinated development and management of water, land, and related resources in order to maximize economic benefit and social welfare in an equitable manner without compromising the sustainability of vital ecosystems.

Integrated water resources management would be vital to cope with challenges to water resources not only in Viet Nam but other countries in the region, Tu said.

He called for a campaign to increase public awareness of water resources management, as well as worker training in the principles and practices of water resources management at all levels.

River Basin Environmental Protection Committees of the Nhue-Day, Cau and Dong Nai river systems should also be more effectively operated, he said.

Tran Thi Hue, from the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment's Department of Water Resources Management also called on authorised agencies to draft regulations to effectively implement the 2012 Law on Water Resources, approved by the National Assembly last June in a bid to better manage the nation's water resources.

The new law, replacing a law last revised in 1998, will take effect on January 1 and includes basic provisions on inventories, planning and strategies for water resources at national, inter-provincial and local levels.

The new law would also make efficient use and conservation mandatory for both organisations and individuals, she added.

The workshop aims to share experience between Viet Nam and France in the field of integrated water resource management at local level.

It was organised by the Action Viet Nam Eau (AVEC) - a co-operation project between localities of the two countries. — VNS

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