|The Sai Gon River is being killed by waste water discharged from industrial zones and the pursuit of aquaculture. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Phan|
HCM City — The Sai Gon River that provides water for HCM City’s almost 10 million people is dying.
Its killer is the waste water discharged from industrial zones and the pursuit of aquaculture, scientists at a seminar held to discuss the protection of the river agreed.
Many reports tabled at the HCM City meeting showed that high amounts of manganese, iron, ammonia, coliform and oil are the major pollutants.
A study by HCM City University of Technology Professor Nguyen Thi Van Ha showed the amount of manganese and iron in the river was higher than the norm of potable water.
The amount of manganese at the Tan Hiep pumping station from where water is supplied to the city, was measured at 0.2mg per litre, double that permissible.
Tan Hiep pumping station director Bui Thanh Giang said he was worried about the fall in water quality and the increase in the amount of ammonia since 2004.
"Previously, the amount rose and fell with the tide," he said.
But now it was always high.
"The quality of the river water has abnormally changed making it more difficult to treat," he said.
The indicator of dissolved oxygen, DO, in the river is lower than that required.
A study by the HCM City Environment Protection Department’s Dr Nguyen Dinh Tuan revealed that the DO ratio was just 2.8-4/7mg per litre compared with a norm of more than 6mg per litre.
The pollution in the Sai Gon River basin was the most serious, Dr Tuan said.
Binh Duong Natural Resources and Environment director Vo Thi Ngoc Hanh said the province’s 11 industrial zones discharged between 1,200 cu.m and 5,600cu.m of waste water into the river basin each day.
Another 45.000cu.m of waste water was discharged by other producers.
Toxic waste water from paper production totalled 7,700cu.m; weaving and dying – 4,200cu.m and rubber processing – 9,600cu.m every day.
The daily discharge from animal breading alone totalled 24,500cu.m.
Tay Ninh Province and HCM City have not yet published figures for the discharge of industrial waste water into the river.
The seminar was told that coliform, a bacteria normally found in the colons of humans and animals but with the potential to become a serious contaminant when found in food or water, and oil spill had become serious pollutants.
The amount of coliform caused by aqua culture was 220 times the norm.
Viet Nam’s regulations for potable water require that it be free of oil but oil pollution in the Sai Gon River is increasing at a rate of 0.023 to 0.090mg per litre.
Water and Environment Technology Institute director Dr Lam Minh Triet, said: "The pollution in Sai Gon River is not only threatening the clean water supply for the HCM City’s people but also the sustainable socio-economic development of HCM City, Tay Ninh and Binh Duong provinces."
HCM City, Tay Ninh and Binh Duong administrators signed an agreement to protect the Sai Gon River in November 2006.
But the three local governments had yet to act apart from installing three stations to test water quality.
However, the natural resources and environment departments of HCM City and Binh Duong and Tay Ninh provinces have pledged to strictly control the waste and water discharged into the river.
HCM City Natural Resources and Environment Department deputy director Nguyen Van Phuoc says the three administrations have studied the sources of the waste and the activities that create the waste substances.
The HCM City department has imposed strict sanctions to production units whose activities pollute the river, he says.
But the pollution will not fall if waste water discharged in Binh Duong and Tay Ninh Provinces is not stopped.
Measures to protect the water quality of the Sai Gon River are part of a two-year plan introduced last month.
The plan will begin with action to eliminate pollution from the part of the river that is used to supply the Tan Hiep pumping station by March.
Plans for the protection and management of the water in the Sai Gon River were now necessary, Dr Triet said.
State management agencies and local governments should invest properly in ensuring its survival.
"If there’s no action, the Sai Gon River will become a dead river," he warned.
The 107km-long Sai Gon River crosses Tay Ninh Province and Binh Duong Provinces and flows through HCM City.
It provides water for daily life; irrigation, aqua culture, industry, transport and tourism. — VNS