Rubbish has been dumped into the Tan Hoa-Lo Gom Canal in HCM City's Tan Phu District. 
(Photo: VNA)

HCM City (VNA) - More than 2,000 canals around HCM City have been seriously polluted threatening people’s health, reported the Nong Thon Ngay Nay (Countryside Today) newspaper.

The pollution of canals in the city has been worsening as large quantities of household and industrial wastewater, as well as rubbish, are being discharged or dumped into canals, according to the city’s Department of Natural Resources and Environment.

For years, residents in Hiep Phu Ward of District 9 have suffered the foul smell from Binh Tho Canal.

“Like all people in the area, I have to close my doors and windows day and night to avoid the smell from the canal”, Nguyen Thi Tiem told the newspaper.

The canal is about 2km long running through the district and discharging wastewater to the Sai Gon River.

According to the municipal Department of Natural Resources and Environment (DoNRE), there are nine industrial zones and five garment, cloth dyeing, footwear and fertiliser businesses in the district. The wastewater discharged by the businesses was one of the reasons for the pollution.

Canals running through the districts 7 and 8 have been severely polluted for years.

The smell from the black water has been poisoning local people’s health.

“In the past, the canal water was so clear that children could fish, swim and play in the canal”, said Nguyen Van Dung, a resident.

“But now the canal is full of rubbish making the water dark black and terrible smelling”, he said.  

A rapid increase in population, a lack of public awareness about environmental protection, and drainage of rainwater and wastewater into the same systems has contributed to the pollution.

Wastewater from households and industrial production is not being treated or is being treated improperly, according to the department.

The department said the canals were also being polluted by large amounts of waste from neighbouring provinces.

The Nhum – Xuan Truong and Cai springs and Ba Bo Canal, for example, receive a large quantity of waste from households and industries in Binh Duong province.

Similarly, Thay Cai – An Ha canals receive waste from households and industries in Long An province.

DoNRE deputy director Nguyen Thi Thanh My said the department would inspect production establishments that release wastewater into canals, especially in pollution hot spots.

The production workshops would be required to build a wastewater treatment facility and operate according to regulations, she said.

Enterprises with wastewater treatment facilities that release more than 1,000cu.m of wastewater a day must use an automatic wastewater monitoring system. Data from the system will be sent to the department.

Enterprises that continue to pollute will have to relocate or cease operations.

The department has also worked with neighbouring provinces to draw up regulations to control wastewater discharge from enterprises near the city’s borders.

Nguyen Ngoc Cong, director of the city’s Steering Centre of Urban Flood Control Programme, said the flooding at Kinh Duong Vuong Street would continue as water drainage systems along the street were being affected by housing encroaching on the land.

The drains that carry water to Le Cong Phep, Ba Tieng and Nhay canals are blocked.

Ba Tieng Canal, for example, is blocked by rubbish, even though the steering centre dredged the canal.

In Binh Tan district, three canals, a water drainage gate, a water drainage sewer and six manholes have all been affected by illegally built housing, the centre reported.

In Tan Phu district, two water drains and six manholes were affected as well.

Cong told agencies to dredge blocked canals and relocate households that are illegally built near canals in Binh Tan and Tan Phu.

He also told districts to launch a campaign to educate local residents about the environmental damage caused by throwing rubbish into canals.  

In Binh Tan, a project worth 800 billion VND (36 million USD) to upgrade more than 3.5km of Kinh Duong Vuong Street to prevent flooding was completed last year, according to the Steering Centre of Urban Flood Control Programme.

This year, the municipal authority has continued to carry our several projects on canal pollution, My said.

The projects include building wastewater treatment factories such as Tham Luong-Ben Cat Factory with capacity of 131,000cu.m per day; Nhieu Loc-Thi Nghe Factory with capacity of 480,000cu.m per day; and upgrading treatment capacity of Binh Hung Factory to 141,000cu.m to 469,000cu.m per day.

Dredging canals and collecting rubbish will also be implemented during the year, she said.-VNA