The Tra Ly River in Thai Binh city is polluted with wastewater from a waste treatment factory and an industrial park (Photo: VNA)

Hanoi (VNA) – Vietnam could face acute freshwater shortages in the future if water resources, including rivers, kept being degraded at the current pace, heard a seminar in Hanoi on December 11.

Dao Thi Viet Nga, a representative of the Vietnam Rivers Network, said the country boasts a relatively dense river system. Rivers are sparse in the south central coast provinces of Ninh Thuan and Binh Thuan while prevailing in the deltas of the Mekong, Hong (Red) and Thai Binh Rivers.

Data of the General Statistics Office in 2014 show that rivers provide some 2 million cubic metres for daily needs of households in 42 provinces and cities in Vietnam every day. They are also the main source of water for agriculture, irrigation (about 8.8 billion cubic metres a year) and aquaculture nationwide.

Tran Thi Le Anh, an official from the Vietnam Environment Administration’s Department of Waste Management and Environment Promotion, pointed out the rapid degradation of river water quality over the last two decades due to economic activities.

According to a survey of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, pollutant concentrations at many locations in basins of the Cau, Nhue – Day and Dong Nai Rivers exceeded the permissible levels for surface water.

An approximate 1.1 million cubic metres of industrial wastewater was released into rivers every day in 2010. The figure is forecast to reach 2.4 million by 2020, Anh said.

Additionally, increasing landslides and prolonged dry season are partly attributable to the appearance of hydropower facilities in upper rivers as well as deforestation. River degradation due to over-exploitation has also put pressure on the livelihoods of riverside communities.

Around 30 million city dwellers in the country are facing water scarcity, she added, warning severe water shortages as a result of such a degradation.

At the seminar, participants shared the view that it is needed to promote the role of the environmental protection committees for river basins, and clarify the responsibility of relevant ministries and sectors.

Grass-roots authorities as well as the public should be further empowered to improve the river environmental management and protection, they added, suggesting a certain sum of money sourced from the State budget for the work.-VNA