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Cleaning the dead river systems in Hanoi

The system of rivers and lakes in the Hanoi capital area is heavily polluted, consequently, the lives and health of people are seriously affected.

Years of pollution

In Hanoi, in major rivers like To Lich river, Tich river, Nhue river and Day river, the state of water is heavily polluted, thick, black, stinky, and this problem has been going on for many years. According to the data from the Hanoi Department of Environmental Protection (Hanoi Department of Natural Resources and Environment), the water quality in rivers flowing through those rivers are all in an alarming state, with many concentrations exceeding the standards QCVN 08:2008/BTNMT of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment. Specifically, the content of BOD is between 30 mg/l - 75 mg/l (2-5 times higher than standard), the content of COD is between 60 mg/l - 180 mg/l (2-6 times higher), the content of Phosphate is between 1 ,2 mg/l - 1.5 mg/l (4 - 5 times higher), the content of Iron is between 2.25 mg/l - 3 mg/l (1.5 - 2 times more), the content of Ammonium is between 9 mg/ l - 20 mg/l (18-40 times higher), the content of Coliform is between 1.5x10^4 MPN/100ml - 7.5x10^5 MPN/100ml (2-100 times higher).

According to the World Bank's aggregated data on Hanoi's wastewater, those rivers must receive up to 600,000 m3 of wastewater every day and become a source of dangerous exposure. According to a report by a specialised unit under the Hanoi Department of Construction, the total capacity of factories and wastewater treatment stations operating in the city only accounts for about 28.8% of the volume of wastewater to be treated. This rate is low compared to the target of treated wastewater in the city by 2020 (60%) as prescribed in the Prime Minister's Decision. The amount of sludge accumulated and deposited for a long time hence causes a strong stench. Besides, there is still the situation of dumping and disposing of garbage into the river, causing environmental pollution and loss of urban beauty, making the pollution more and more serious.

Statistics from Hanoi city show that the Nhue river basin has about 2,521 waste sources, including 1,672 waste sources from production and business establishments, 126 waste sources from industrial parks and industrial clusters, 137 waste sources from health facilities (hospitals) and 586 craft villages.

For example, To Lich River is one of the main drainage axes of the capital, with a length of about 14 km, through the territory of 6 districts: Ba Dinh, Cau Giay, Dong Da, Thanh Xuan, Hoang Mai, and Thanh Tri. However, under the pressure of urbanisation, along with domestic wastewater and the lack of awareness of the people, the river became heavily polluted. According to the statistics of the authorities, every day, about 150,000 m³ of untreated domestic and industrial wastewater are passed through more than 300 sewers and discharged directly into the To Lich River.

Impacts on people lives

People living near these rivers have to put up with terrible smell and view, especially during the summer as the heat makes the smell more unbearable. After every rain, hot weather or wind, the rotten smell from the river is very unpleasant. Households doing business along the riverbank always have terrible reactions like headaches, sneezing, runny noses. Many families have to sublease their houses and move to another place to live as they could not continue with this standard of living.

Those mentioned rivers are also great sources of water for the agriculture industry of areas near the centre of Hanoi. Many farmers have to give up farming as they no longer can use the water from those rivers for watering. Others, if continue using, will not be able to product vegetables and stocks that meet high health standards.

More immediate actions are required

Till now, Hanoi City has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on drainage projects to build new culverts, pumping stations, dredging mud, compaction and concrete embankments throughout the inner city's rivers and lakes. Besides, Hanoi has built four wastewater treatment (WWTP) near major lakes, however, rivers and lakes are still yet not treated properly.

According to the drainage planning of Hanoi capital to 2030, with a vision to 2050, the city center area needs to invest in building 13 wastewater treatment plants with a total capacity of about 905,000m3/day. Currently, the city has completed the construction of 5 wastewater treatment plants including Yen So, Truc Bach, Kim Lien, West Lake and Bay Mau Lake with a total capacity of 234,300m3/day (accounting for 26% of the wastewater volume in the central area). Hanoi is also expecting Yen Xa wastewater treatment plant with a treatment capacity of 270,000 m3/day to rescue the To Lich River, however, the two 10-km long underground pipelines that receive wastewater from 300 sluice gates only receive 150,000 m3/day, that is, only half of the capacity. Therefore, even after Yen Xa Factory operates with the capacity increased by 150,000m3, the total amount of treated wastewater is 384,300m3, less than 40% of the city's wastewater, and the remaining 60% of untreated wastewater will be released into the environment on a daily basis.

Source: the internet

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