SAWACO takes steps to address overexploitation of underground water

October 18, 2023 - 09:14
Saigon Water Supply Corporation (SAWACO), the largest water supply company in HCM City, is making efforts to address the overexploitation of underground water and provide safe and clean water to residents.
SAWACO is implementing a campaign to reduce groundwater usage. — Photo courtesy of SAWACO

HCM CITY — Saigon Water Supply Corporation (SAWACO), the largest water supply company in HCM City, is making efforts to address the overexploitation of underground water and provide safe and clean water to residents.

Bùi Thanh Giang, general director of SAWACO, said the company is committed to addressing overexploitation of underground water, providing safe and clean water to residents, and protecting the environment.

The use of poor-quality groundwater not only affects the geology of the city but also poses health risks to the population, he said.

“Water quality has a significant impact on human health, and the use of contaminated water can lead to acute diseases as well as chronic illnesses in the long run,” he added.

In HCM City, groundwater is extensively exploited for various purposes, including domestic use, which has long-term negative effects on the environment and public health.

In 2018, the city government developed a roadmap to reduce groundwater extraction and plug up underground wells by 2025.

As part of this plan, SAWACO will develop a suitable groundwater extraction reduction plan, which aims to reduce the amount of extraction to 50,000 cubic metres per day this year.

The long-standing habit of using groundwater and the reluctance to pay for safe and clean water make some residents hesitant to switch to tap water, he said.

To help change people’s perception and promote the use of clean water instead of groundwater, SAWACO ensures a continuous supply of high-quality and safe water.

It also collaborates with relevant departments, districts, and Thủ Đức City to raise awareness among residents about the limitations of groundwater extraction.

The company also plans to implement discounted water programmes to encourage households that have already installed water meters but have yet to use them.

SAWACO and its member water supply companies are committed to providing clean and safe water to all districts and Thủ Đức City.

Since 2017, the company has been able to provide clean water to 100 per cent of households through various measures, such as network development, meter installation, and centralised water storage tanks.

It has set a goal by 2025 to increase the total capacity of the water supply system to 2.9 million cubic metres per day.

In addition, it is accelerating its digital transformation by implementing systems and application software.

This includes the establishment of a data centre, the development of water quality management software, the construction of information technology infrastructure management systems, the implementation of water loss management systems, the provision of project management software, and the deployment of hydraulic simulation software for network modeling.

It also plans to invest in and install water supply network systems that cover the entire city.

Land subsidence

The excessive extraction of groundwater has led to land subsidence in HCM City and the Mekong Delta region, experts have warned.

Although there hasn’t been a specific study to determine the exact impact of each cause of subsidence, excessive groundwater extraction is recognised as one of the reasons, they said.

Groundwater extraction in HCM City has been steadily increasing since 2000 and currently exceeds 700,000 cubic metres per day, which has resulted in a decline in groundwater levels and increased land subsidence in certain areas, especially suburban districts, said Dr. Hà Quang Khải, lecturer of the Department of Environment and Resources at the HCM City University of Technology.

Đào Phú Khánh, deputy head of the Environmental Health Department at the HCM City Centre for Disease Control (HCDC), said water quality has a significant impact on human health.

The use of poor-quality water not only leads to acute diseases such as allergies, itches, and diarrhea but also poses a risk of chronic illnesses, he said.

It is difficult to evaluate the quality of groundwater solely based on its appearance, as it may still appear clear and clean externally.

Experts have noted that around 70 per cent of surveyed groundwater samples did not meet standards due to issues such as pH, ammonia, iron, and microbial contamination. — VNS

SAWACO staff are plugging wells for residents in HCM City, aiming to decrease the reliance on groundwater extraction. — Photo courtesy of SAWACO