|An overview of Đồng Nai River basin. Experts said concerted efforts were needed by HCM City and the 10 provinces in the Đồng Nai River basin to improve management of water resources and protect the environment. — Photo vietnamworldmapz.com
HCM CITY — Concerted efforts are needed by HCM City and the 10 provinces in the Đồng Nai River basin to improve management of water resources and protect the environment, experts have said.
Dr Phùng Chí Sỹ, vice chairman of the Vietnam Association for the Protection of Nature and Environment, said it is vital to develop an environmental protection plan for the entire basin.
“The plan must clearly identify the pollution sources and degradation sources and make forecasts for until 2030.”
It is vital to assess the pollutant levels in each river, and strictly regulate waste discharge into it from industrial and residential areas.
“Any act of environmental pollution must be severely penalised.”
Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Võ Tuấn Nhân added, “We need to draft a law on national environmental protection and bio-diversity conservation as part of the effort.”
Experts have urged HCM City and provinces in the basin to collect and treat wastewater before releasing it into the river.
They must also develop measures to control illegal sand mining and deforestation and protect the river’s eco-system, they said.
The localities have in recent years undertaken a number of measures to protect the basin, including installing a system to monitor the water environment.
In Bình Phước Province, to protect the Bé River’s environment, the Bù Ðốp Forest Protection Bureau plans to restore the flora and fauna of an area of 500ha while protecting existing forests.
Birds and animals are expected to improve bio-diversity, enabling the province to develop eco-tourism.
Đồng Nai Province has worked with neighbouring provinces and cities and central agencies to implement many drastic measures.
It has 31 industrial zones (IZs) and dozens of industrial clusters with thousands of businesses there discharging more than 127,000cu.m of wastewater into the river daily.
Earlier this year the Government approved a plan to move the Biên Hòa Industrial Park 1 from the river basin.
In HCM City, all 21 seriously polluting establishments have improved pollution treatment while others have been relocated or shut, according to city authorities.
The city has also completed the zoning of water based on water quality indicators (WQI) to assess the use of water from rivers and canals.
It has collected data on pollution caused by industrial effluents in the districts of Bình Thạnh, Gò Vấp, Củ Chi, Hóc Môn, Nhà Bè, 4, 7, 9, 12 to assess the impact of industrial activities in the basin.
It has conducted a survey to identify those guilty of discharging wastewater directly into canals and ditches and calculate their level of pollution.
It has also created GIS maps to monitor and manage those guilty of discharging effluents.
To ensure they can supply clean water to the city, authorities recently decided to gradually draw from further upstream in the Sài Gòn and Đồng Nai rivers.
Experts said pollution in the Đồng Nai River basin, which supplies water to around 17 million people in HCM City and nearby provinces, would continue to affect water supply since it is polluted by untreated wastewater from millions of households and thousands of factories.
Hydropower generation, irrigation and other activities also contribute to the pollution.
Lê Việt Hùng, director of the Đồng Nai Province's Department of Natural Resources and Environment, said that in the basin pollutants, including organic substances, iron and bacteria in the water exceed permissible levels.
The Đồng Nai River in particular, but also many other rivers in the country, has been over-exploited for hydropower.
Water in the downstream areas of the Sài Gòn River suffers from severe micro-biological pollution and slight oil contamination.
Pollution indicators like ammonia, micro-organisms and manganese have all increased above levels permitted by Việt Nam and the World Health Organization.
The Đồng Nai basin, one of the country’s largest, is drained by four main rivers, Đồng Nai, Sài Gòn, Thị Vải, and Vàm Cỏ.
Besides HCM City and Đồng Nai Province, the basin also comprises Đắk Nông, Đắk Lắk, Lâm Đồng, Ninh Thuận, Bình Thuận, Bình Phước, Bình Dương, Bà Rịa–Vũng Tàu, Long An, and Tây Ninh provinces. — VNS