Pollution is making water from rivers near Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City practically unusable as economic development overtakes Vietnam's efforts to protect the waterways, environmental experts say.
HANOI -- Pollution is making water from rivers near Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City practically unusable as economic development overtakes Vietnam's efforts to protect the waterways, environmental experts say.
In the first report of its kind on two northern river basins and one in the south, a government ministry said this week that waste water from industrial, medical and domestic sources was being discharged directly into rivers.
"The surface water in Hanoi is so polluted it is not at all suitable for agriculture uses and absolutely not available for domestic use," said Helene Bjerre Jordans, counsellor for environment and culture at the embassy of Denmark in Hanoi.
The Danish International Development Agency and the World Bank provided assistance to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment for its study on the densely populated areas.
"Even worse is the situation in some of the waterways in Ho Chi Minh City where the water is 'dead'... the data is proving it," Jordans said.
The report focused on the northern river basins of Cau and Nhue-Day near the capital, Hanoi, and the southern river basin of Dong Nai in the industrial and commercial heartland around Ho Chi Minh City.
Standards of living have improved for many as Vietnam's economy expands at one of the world's fastest rates after China.
The communist-run government has a "national strategy on environmental protection" built into its plans to make Vietnam an industrialised country by 2020.
But the study said better enforcement of environmental protection laws and changes in attitude among the country's 84 million people were key to slowing contamination of waterways.
"There is an urgent need to complete the legal and institutional systems, enhancing enforcement and international cooperation and participation of communities," said Pham Khoi Nguyen, vice minister of the ministry.
He said that the rate of water pollution was so fast that without action, 76 km (48 miles) of the Nhue-Day will be "dead water" by 2030. The study showed that already about a 10-km (6-mile) stretch had no living plants or animals.
Digestive diseases and other health threats have increased and the availability of clean water to the poor was limited, the report said.
Chemicals, pesticide, heavy metals, oil and organic pollutants can cause cancers as well as digestive, gynaecological and skin diseases.